STUDYING A POPULATION OF MEDITERRANEAN LEAF-TOED GECKO
In nature there are several species of geckos and they are the most species-rich group of lizards, with about 1500 different species, in the World. However, in accord with some scientific manuscripts, they are relatively poor studied compared to some other lizards.
Geckos usually live on the walls around the cities, abandoned buildings and our houses, everywhere there are vertical surfaces. This thanks to their ability to walk on these surfaces. In fact the geckos have a special adaptation that allow them to walk in most of surfaces that we know without any particular liquids. They use the Van der Waals forces to adhere, with the structures present on their fingers, to the surfaces. Each surface has different energy and walking for them on the material with low energy sometime is more difficult. The best moment to see them in activity is during the night hours in particular in the summertime when their activity is at the maximum.
In the Mediterranean area compared to the total amount of the species we find at the moment, more or less, 41 species are living in the area.
In my area live a small gecko species known with the common name European leaf-toed gecko, scientific name Euleptes europaea. This species was found in few places in France, Italy and Tunisia but compared to the other species shows the ability to survive up to 1300-1500 meters a.s.l.
Euleptes europaea lives on the rocks, especially granite, on old buildings walls and sometimes on trunks. In daytime they stay under the surface, in small hideaways, while in night-time they go out from their shelters and they hunt small arthropods. Unlike other geckos, this species is totally nocturnal and it’s very difficult to observe; the reasons are its mimicry (cryptic) and also its dimensions. In fact the adults body mass weight is <2.5 grams and the body length <50 millimeters. Another important aspect for the species is characterized by a long expectancy of life and moreover shows and unexpected aggregation behaviour.
For these reasons some years ago around my city started a research project, carry out by the DISTAV, a department of University of Genoa, for analysing and studying an isolated population of this species. The main aims are understand the demography, abundance and temporal dynamics of the population to evaluate its conservation and suggest a long-term management. From 1996, when the project started, to today were captured by hand a lot of specimens. Each gecko was measured, weighted and marked with different colours and released. The technics used consisted in a marked-recapturesession to obtain data about the population structure and abundance. At the moment the species is listed as ” Near Threatened” by the IUCN and is listed on Appendix II of the Bern Convention and Annex IV of the EU Habitats Directive.