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Behavior of riparian Iguana iguana: Cano Palma boat traffic study

Cite this dataset

Rice, Elizabeth; Lewis, Todd; Griffin, Rowland; Grant, Paul (2022). Behavior of riparian Iguana iguana: Cano Palma boat traffic study [Dataset]. Dryad.


Although frequently studied in captivity, less is known about wild Iguana iguana. Herein behavior of riparian I. iguana was collected alongside climate, vigilance, and boat traffic data. Observations showed boat tourism potentially affects I. iguana negatively. We recommend minor changes by the ecotourism industry to alleviate visitor pressure on I. iguana.


Field observations of I. iguana took place from a viewing gallery dock tower that acted as a hide for observers above the Caño Palma. Data was collected during December 2004 (the breeding season for I. iguana regionally in northeast Costa Rica). Behavior observation was collected using scan sampling with frequency of behavior scored. Behaviors recorded included; thermoregulation (in sun / shade), vigilance, head bobbing, movement, foraging, displaying, retreating, feeding, dewlap displays (males) and time activity in sun / shade. Observations were recorded by two observers (one spotter and one recorder) that were kept consistent for the daily observations. Observation were recorded in two hour intervals; 0600–0800 h, 0800–1000 h, 1000–1200 h, 1100–1300 h, 1200–1400 h, 1300–1500 h, 1400–1600 h and 1500–1700 h. Abiotic data was collected to account for climatic influence and included; temperature, humidity, precipitation, cloud cover, canal height/state of water level measured from centre depth of canal in cm (flooding). The presence and number of boats was recorded during observation sessions and linked with predictors in the behavior model.

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