Reproduction ecology of the recently invasive snake Hemorrhois hippocrepis on the island of Ibiza

Knowing the causes of biological invasion success can be relevant to combat future invasive processes. The recent invasion of the horseshoe whip snake Hemorrhois hippocrepis on the island of Ibiza provides the opportunity to compare natural history traits between invasive and source populations, and to unravel what makes this snake a successful invader that is threatening the only endemic vertebrate of the island, Podarcis pityusensis. This study compares the basic reproductive traits of mainland native and invasive populations of the snake. Our results revealed that invasive populations were characterized by female maturity at a smaller size, extended reproductive period, and much lower reproduction frequency compared to the native population. In contrast, some major reproductive traits—the abdominal fat body cycle, clutch size, hatchling body size, and hatchling body condition, did not differ between the two populations. Some of these results must reflect the environmental differences in the recently invaded island with respect to the source area, and overall plasticity of reproductive traits. Plasticity is evolutionarily interesting, and may aid the successful growth of this species in their invasiveness of Mediterranean islands like Ibiza. The most significant finding is that this expression of phenotypic plasticity occurred rapidly in this invasive population, within a period of 14 years maximum. Our results on the reproduction ecology of the invasive population were not conclusive regarding the factors determining the invasiveness of the snake and pointed to alternative causes.
Keywords
Ibiza;  invasion success;  islands;  reproduction frequency;  snakes

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Montes E, Feriche M, Sueiro LR, Alaminos E, Pleguezuelos JM. Reproduction ecology of the recently invasive snake Hemorrhois hippocrepis on the island of Ibiza. Curr. Zool.. 2020 Aug;66(4):363–371. doi:10.1093/cz/zoz059.
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