Morphology and molecular data reveal invasion of cryptic golden tegus (Tupinambis cryptus Murphy et al., 2016) in Florida.
Golden tegus (Tupinambis teguixin sensu lato) are native to South America but have established a reproducing population in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Recent work divided the golden tegu into four distinct species, leaving the specific identity of golden tegus in Florida unknown. We used morphometric and mitochondrial data to determine the species identity and likely area of geographic origin for a specimen of golden tegu collected in Miami-Dade County. Our results confirm that cryptic golden tegus (Tupinambis cryptus) are at least one of the species established in Florida. Their geographic origin is likely mainland Guyana or Venezuela. The presence of T. teguixin in Florida remains possible, based on other specimens of ambiguous scalation. Further study is needed to determine the identity and origin of these populations.