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14 December 2020 Insights into the Nesting Ecology and Annual Hatchling Production of the Komodo Dragon
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Abstract

We studied annual trends and characteristics of nesting activities and hatchling production by female Komodo Dragons (Varanus komodoensis) in Komodo National Park, Indonesia between 2002 and 2006. During this period, we recorded 12, 16, 15, 13, and 6 females nesting annually at 42 potential nesting sites. An average female nesting periodicity was estimated at 1.2±0.4 years. This result arose because most females bred annually and some biennially. Some females reused nest sites in successive years while others did not. Nesting females had significantly lower body mass compared to when they were recaptured again in a non-nesting state. All-female nesting activities were conducted within their resident valleys and suggested a strong tendency for spatial fidelity. Komodo Dragons were generally considered solitary nesters as only on one occasion were two nesting females observed to use the same nesting site. On average, 21.0±3.6 Komodo Dragon hatchlings emerged from each nest. We estimated that within the study area, nesting female Komodo Dragons produced between 129.0±21.8 and 344.0±58.16 hatchlings per annum. We discuss the ecological and evolutionary significance of these attributes. However, the main conservation management implications drawn from this study are that there are a low annual number of nesting females and associated hatchling production in Komodo National Park. Hence, a continuation of more extensive nesting surveys could provide a cost-effective and accurate way to gather important long-term demographic information for this species.

© 2020 by the American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Deni Purwandana, M. Jeri Imansyah, Achmad Ariefiandy, Heru Rudiharto, Claudio Ciofi, and Tim S. Jessop "Insights into the Nesting Ecology and Annual Hatchling Production of the Komodo Dragon," Copeia 108(4), 855-862, (14 December 2020). https://doi.org/10.1643/CH-19-337
Received: 9 December 2019; Accepted: 2 August 2020; Published: 14 December 2020
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