Biological Invasions

, Volume 14, Issue 3, pp 579–593 | Cite as

Diet and conservation implications of an invasive chameleon, Chamaeleo jacksonii (Squamata: Chamaeleonidae) in Hawaii

  • Fred Kraus
  • Arthur Medeiros
  • David Preston
  • Catherine S. Jarnevich
  • Gordon H. Rodda
Original Paper


We summarize information on current distribution of the invasive lizard Chamaeleo jacksonii and predict its potential distribution in the Hawaiian Islands. Potential distribution maps are based on climate models developed from known localities in its native range and its Hawaiian range. We also present results of analysis of stomach contents of a sample of 34 chameleons collected from native, predominantly dryland, forest on Maui. These data are the first summarizing prey range of this non-native species in an invaded native-forest setting. Potential distribution models predict that the species can occur throughout most of Hawaii from sea level to >2,100 m elevation. Important features of this data set are that approximately one-third of the diet of these lizards is native insects, and the lizards are consuming large numbers of arthropods each day. Prey sizes span virtually the entire gamut of native Hawaiian arthropod diversity, thereby placing a large number of native species at risk of predation. Our dietary results contrast with expectations for most iguanian lizards and support suggestions that chameleons comprise a third distinct foraging-mode category among saurians. The combination of expanding distribution, large potential range size, broad diet, high predation rates, and high densities of these chameleons imply that they may well become a serious threat to some of the Hawaiian fauna.


Dry forest Homoptera Iguanans Insect conservation Invasive reptiles 



We thank M. Ade, S. Akoi, K. Bustamente, F. Duvall, R. Suzuki, and the Maui Invasive Species Committee for assistance in collecting chameleons, F. Howarth and A. Samuelson for identification of some dietary items; S. Hashimoto and T. Lopez for specimen preparation; P. Imada and C. Kishinami for curatorial services; F. Duvall for sharing his chameleon census data, crucial assistance with curation and transport of specimens, and for sharing his extensive field expertise; P. Nečas for confirming elevational range data; N. Camacho, T. Hibbitts, K. Krysko, S. Rogers, G. Watkins-Colwell, and K. Zyskowski for museum specimen data; C. Atkinson, C. Brosius, K. Bustamente, A. Kitajima, K. Minami, J. Parish, L. Pratt, M. Smith, and M. Waite for additional records of unvouchered animals; P. Banko and E. Campbell for manuscript review; and G. Tribble and the Pacific Island Ecosystems Research Center of the U.S. Geological Survey and S. Ziegler-Chong and the Hawaii Cooperative Studies Unit of the University of Hawaii at Hilo for logistical support. This contribution was made possible in part thanks to support from the U.S. Geological Survey Ecosystems and Invasive Species Program. Any use of trade, product, or firm names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. (outside the USA) 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Fred Kraus
    • 1
  • Arthur Medeiros
    • 2
  • David Preston
    • 1
  • Catherine S. Jarnevich
    • 3
  • Gordon H. Rodda
    • 3
  1. 1.Hawaii Biological Survey, Bishop MuseumHonoluluUSA
  2. 2.U.S. Geological Survey Pacific Island Ecosystems Research CenterMakawaoUSA
  3. 3.U.S. Geological Survey Fort Collins Science CenterFort CollinsUSA

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