The entire population of the Union Island gecko occupies an area around 0.5 km2 — that’s the area of just seven football pitches! This incredibly tiny distribution means the Union Island gecko is especially vulnerable to habitat degradation and loss, as it cannot move into other suitable habitat.
This species is known only from a small stretch of forested slopes above Chatham Bay on Union Island. Worryingly, in 2005, a road was constructed through this previously inaccessible site, meaning the area of forest in which this species lives could be at imminent risk from further development.
The northeast of the bay is already being cleared for housing and agriculture, and introduced mammals are degrading the understory vegetation integral to this species’ habitat. Moreover, domestic cats are known to prey on native reptiles, making them a threat to this diminutive and unique gecko.
The Union Island gecko, which may have diverged from all living species more than 30 million years ago, is listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN Red List. However, the species is not included in any international legislation. Chatham Bay encompasses the most important watershed on Union Island, and measures are needed to preserve and manage the forest to benefit this species. The area has been identified as a site of conservation importance and should be preserved as a national protected area.
- Order: Squamata
- Family: Sphaerodactylidae
- Population: ~6,500
- Trend: stable
- Size: <3cm (?)
This species is only known from the slopes above Chatham Bay on Union Island, St Vincent and the Grenadines, up to 300 metres above sea level.
Habitat and Ecology
This species occupies intact secondary forests, which is characterised by tropical dry forest with rocky areas. They are found near rocky outcroppings of large boulders. Individuals have also been found associated with insulating cover such as leaf litter, rock piles and other debris. Individuals are most active during the early morning, when temperatures under cover are higher than ambient air temperatures.