Invasive Species Compendium

Detailed coverage of invasive species threatening livelihoods and the environment worldwide

Abstract

Thermal ecophysiology of a native and an invasive gecko species in a tropical dry forest of Mexico.

Abstract

For ectotherms, thermal physiology plays a fundamental role in the establishment and success of invasive species in novel areas and, ultimately, in their ecological interactions with native species. Invasive species are assumed to have a greater ability to exploit the thermal environment, higher acclimation capacities, a wider thermal tolerance range, and better relative performance under a range of thermal conditions. Here we compare the thermal ecophysiology of two species that occur in sympatry in a tropical dry forest of the Pacific coast of Mexico, the microendemic species Benedetti's Leaf-toed Gecko (Phyllodactylus benedettii) and the invasive Common House Gecko (Hemidactylus frenatus). We characterized their patterns of thermoregulation, thermoregulatory efficiency, thermal tolerances, and thermal sensitivity of locomotor performance. In addition, we included morphological variables and an index of body condition to evaluate their effects on the thermal sensitivity of locomotor performance in these species. Although the two species had similar selected temperatures and thermal tolerances, they contrasted in their thermoregulatory strategies and thermal sensitivity of locomotor performance. Hemidactylus frenatus had a higher performance than the native species, P. benedettii, which would represent an ecological advantage for the former species. Nevertheless, we suggest that given the spatial and temporal limitations in habitat use of the two species, the probability of agonistic interactions between them is reduced. We recommend exploring additional biotic attributes, such as competition, behavior and niche overlap in order assess the role of alternative factors favoring the success of invasive species.