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A close-up photograph of a grey and tan gecko standing on dark, organic soil
Information icon Monito gecko. Photo by JP Zegarra, USFWS.

Removal of the Monito gecko from the federal list of endangered and threatened wildlife

What action is the Service taking?

Following an in-depth status review, the Service is finalizing its proposal to remove the Monito gecko from the federal list of endangered and threatened animals. The Service has determined that the Monito gecko is recovered and no longer warrants listing under the Endangered Species Act (ESA). This decision is based on the best available science for the species.

How are the endangered and threatened classifications defined?

The ESA defines endangered as “in danger of extinction throughout all or a significant portion of its range.” Threatened” is defined as “likely to become an endangered species within the foreseeable future throughout all or a significant portion of its range.”

What did the Service conclude?

The Monito gecko is widespread throughout its habitat and numbering in the thousands. The Service conducted an ESA threats analysis and found that all of the threats to the species have been eliminated or reduced, adequate regulatory mechanisms exist, and the population remains stable. Based on the best available scientific information, the Service has determined that the species is not currently, and is not likely to again become, an endangered species within the foreseeable future in all or a significant portion of its range.

What did the Service consider in reaching its decision to delist the Monito gecko?

Section 4(a)(1) of the ESA requires the Service to determine whether fish, wildlife or plants, are endangered or threatened based on one or a combination of the five following factors:

  1. The present or threatened destruction, modification, or curtailment of its habitat or range;
  2. Over-utilization for commercial, recreational, scientific, or educational purposes;
  3. Disease or predation;
  4. The inadequacy of existing regulatory mechanisms; or
  5. Other natural or man-made factors affecting its continued existence.

In making this decision, the Service conducted a thorough status review based on these factors using the best scientific and commercial information available.

Did the assessment determine that the Monito gecko was meeting all recovery criteria outlined in the recovery plan?

The recovery plan does not contain recovery criteria, but rather recovery actions that when accomplished, would lead to the species’ recovery. No quantitative recovery level was defined due to the lack of data on historical population levels, population trends, and apparent historical population size. The Service determined that the recovery actions were either met or no longer needed for the recovery of the species. Rat predation was considered the main cause of an apparent population decline for the Monito gecko. By August-September 1999, the Puerto Rico Department of Natural and Environmental Resources (PRDNER) finalized its rat eradication campaign on Monito Island and the island currently remains rat free.

A small, rocky, vegetated island with mainland Puerto Rico in the distance
Monito Island is an uninhabited and mostly inaccessible island of only about 36 acres. It lies west of Puerto Rico and was designated a U.S. National Natural Landmark in 1975. Photo by USFWS.

What is the range of the Monito gecko?

The Monito gecko is restricted to Monito Island, an isolated area located in the Mona Passage, about 68 km (42.3 mi) west of Puerto Rico, 60 km (37.3 mi) east of Hispaniola and about 5 km (3.1 mi) northwest of Mona Island.

What is the population status of the Monito gecko?

The most current survey (May 2016) estimates that there are more than 7,600 Monito geckos on the island.

Now that the Monito gecko is delisted, will it continue to be monitored by the Service or some other agency/group?

Yes. The Service has created a post-delisting monitoring (PDM) plan. The PDM plan summarizes the species’ status at the time of delisting, defines thresholds or triggers for potential monitoring outcomes and conclusions, lays out the frequency and duration of monitoring, articulates monitoring methods including sampling considerations, outlines compilation and reporting procedures and responsibilities, and proposes a post-delisting monitoring implementation schedule including timing and responsible parties. Post-delisting monitoring will be completed through the cooperative efforts of the Service, PRDNER and other partners.

Did Hurricane Irma have an impact on the gecko?

Hurricanes including Irma are not considered a threat to the Monito gecko because the island is 66 meters above sea level. The vegetation on the island is short and therefore hurricane impacts are expected to be minimal. Additionally, the Monito gecko spends a large portion of its lifespan under rocks.

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