Geographic distribution of the nonnative Mediterranean Gecko (hemidactylus turcicus) in Oklahoma.
Native throughout the Mediterranean region (Conant and Collins, 1998), H. turcicus has been introduced into the New World with established populations in the United States, Cuba, (Schwartz and Henderson, 1991; Rodder and Lotters, 2009), and parts of Central America and Mexico (Collins and Irwin, 2001; Rodder and Lotters, 2009) due to human-mediated dispersal (Locey and Stone, 2006). In the past century, H. turcicus has increased its range throughout the United States since its first record in Key West, Florida, in 1910 (Stejneger, 1922; Jadin and Coleman, 2007). Hemidactylus turcicus now exhibits a broad, patchy distribution across most of the southern United States (Davis, 1974; Meshaka, 1995; Conant and Collins, 1998; Gomez-Zlatar et al., 2006; White and Husak, 2015) with northern populations in Pennsylvania (Powell et al., 2016).
The rapid range extension of Hemidactylus turcicus is due to unintentional human-mediated introductions (Lever, 2003) and is commonly found near anthropogenically influenced habitats (Rato et al., 2011), particularly apartments, hotels, and businesses where human traffic is high (White and Husak, 2015). Because their association with human activity and natural diffusion rates are low, drop dispersal is likely the driving force behind H. turcicus range expansion (Locey and Stone, 2006). Geckos have been known to deposit eggs in nursery plants (Livo et al., 1998), moving boxes, and old piles of clothing where transportation via human movement to new potential colonization sites is possible (Selcer, 1986).
While most H. turcicus introductions are likely unintentional, deliberate human-mediated dispersal has been documented by researchers. Beginning in the 1960s, the first records of H. turcicus in Oklahoma were due to intentional releases on multiple university campuses, including the University of Oklahoma in Cleveland County (Sievert and Sievert, 2011) and the University of Central Oklahoma in Oklahoma County (Locey and Stone, 2006). Hemidactylus turcicus has since been documented by researchers throughout much of southwestern Oklahoma, with patchy distribution throughout the state (White and Husak, 2015). Prior to 2016, 54 of the 77 Oklahoma counties lacked records for H. turcicus, with the last documented range extension adding nine new counties in 2015 (White and Husak, 2015). The purpose of this study was to fill gaps between previous records of nonnative H. turcicus and assess the current status of the species in the state of Oklahoma.
For this study, we incorporated the methodology of White and Husak (2015). To assess the statewide status of H. turcicus, we selected the largest city in each Oklahoma county without previous documentation to search for gecko activity. We conducted searches an hour after sundown for 3 h or until gecko activity was observed. We selected older buildings of brick construction with the presence of eaves due to the availability of gecko refugia. To facilitate hand-capturing of geckos, we used flashlights to temporarily blind individuals, allowing for easier capture. Because H. turcicus were often observed perched out of reach on high walls, we also splashed individuals with tap water to temporarily dislodge them from the surface. Geckos adhere to surfaces using setae located on their toes (Autumn et al., 2002). When setae come in contact with water, their adhesive capabilities are reduced, therefore decreasing climbing performance (Huber et al., 2005; Sun et al., 2005; Lee et al., 2007). We hand-collected H. turcicus that fell to the ground and placed them into plastic containers with corresponding location data. We cataloged geckos that we collected into the Cameron University Zoological Museum. Each town/city was searched twice during the summer of 2014.
We documented 16 Oklahoma counties that were not previously known to contain H. turcicus: Murray, Johnston, Bryan, Pushmataha, Choctaw, Logan, Kay, Noble, Canadian, Osage, Rogers, Creek, Wagoner, Pittsburg, McIntosh, and Okmulgee (Table 1; Fig. 1). For each site, we observed multiple individuals. We often observed individuals away from lights or in low light conditions. Individuals that we observed in low light conditions were often positioned near refugia or hidden behind rain gutters that run vertically against walls. Including the previous 24 Oklahoma counties (White and Husak, 2015), a total of 40 Oklahoma counties now contain H. turcicus. We surveyed 20 counties with no gecko activity: Harmon, Greer, Kiowa, Washita, Custer, Dewey, Major, Woods, Alfalfa, Grant, Pawnee, Washington, Nowata, Lincoln, Seminole, Okfuskee, Hughes, Coal, Kingfisher, and Beckham (Fig. 1).
We documented 16 additional Oklahoma county records for H. turcicus, thus filling notable gaps in the previously known range. A substantial number of the new records are located throughout central Oklahoma where human populations per county varied from 10,980 (Johnston County) to 133,378 (Canadian County), with an average of 44,277.31 per county (n = 16) (United States Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/en.html). The 20 Oklahoma counties with no observed gecko activity varied in human population from 2,788 (Harmon County) to 52,021 (Washington County), with an average of 15,118.65 (n = 20) per county (United States Census Bureau, https://www.census.gov/en.html). Oklahoma counties with larger populations potentially have increased opportunities for human-mediated dispersal, due to increased human traffic and widespread highway systems.
Counties containing H. turcicus are limited in western Oklahoma, especially in surveyed counties closest to the panhandle and the New Mexico border. Western Oklahoma counties with unsuccessful searches have human populations ranging from 2,788 (Harmon County) to 29,744 (Custer County), with an average of 9,705 (n = 9) people per county (United States Census Bureau, https:// www.census.gov/en.html). Less-populated counties with less human traffic could reduce chances of drop dispersal events. Adjacent states with established H. turcicus populations could serve as corridors for human-mediated dispersal (White and Husak, 2015); however, significant population recruitment to western Oklahoma from adjacent Texas panhandle and New Mexico counties are unlikely due to the apparent absence of established H. turcicus populations in the Texas panhandle and activity in New Mexico being limited to sparse records in the south-central portion of the state (Conant and Collins, 1998).
Survey bias and search effort (Farallo et al., 2009) might affect H. turcicus detection rates. We targeted motels, restaurants, and gas stations adjacent to highways for searches. Counties with lower populations had fewer locations suitable for H. turcicus surveys. We often overlooked residential areas due to time constraints. Targeting heterogeneous survey sites would potentially increase H. turcicus detection rates in counties where typical H. turcicus anthropogenic habitat is reduced. We conducted nightly surveys methodically, beginning an hour after sunset. However, we selected specific survey sites depending on proximity to the previously searched site because of time constraints. We conducted individual surveys of buildings at different times depending on the completion of the previous survey. Activity of H. turcicus is known to vary throughout the night (Frankenberg, 1984), and searches conducted during times of lower activity might result in individuals going undetected.
Researchers should conduct future surveys in the remaining unsearched Oklahoma counties to assess the status of H. turcicus in the state. Revisiting surveyed counties where H. turcicus was not found could produce additional records. Undetected H. turcicus may reside within counties where searches were unsuccessful, and revisiting unsuccessful survey sites could track new introductions as drop dispersal events occur across Oklahoma. With few recorded populations in Kansas, established Oklahoma populations near the southern Kansas border may act as source populations for H. turcicus in southern Kansas. In light of frequent surveys being conducted in the state, most of Kansas may lack established populations of H. turcicus (J. White, pers. observ.).
We thank the numerous property owners who gave us access to buildings during late night hours and J. Jang and S. Ebenhoe for assistance in the field. We thank G. Sievert for comments on helpful field collecting techniques. For abstract translation, we thank C. Caio and C. De Niz.
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Submitted 28 May 2016.
Acceptance recommended by Associate Editor, Felipe de Jesus Rodriguez Romero, 7 October 2016.
Caption: FIG. 1--Previously documented distribution of Hemidactylus turcicus in Oklahoma (gray-filled circles, following White and Husak, 2015), counties searched without finding H. turcicus (open circles), and new county records documented in the current study (blackfilled circles).
Table 1--Specimens of Hemidactylus turcicus representing new county records that we collected in Oklahoma and deposited in the Cameron University Museum of Zoology (CUMZ). County City Murray Sulphur Johnston Tishomingo Bryan Durant Pushmataha Antlers Choctaw Hugo Logan Guthrie Kay Blackwell Noble Perry Canadian Yukon Osage Tulsa Rogers Owasso Creek Supulpa Wagoner Broken Arrow Pittsburg McAlester McIntosh Eufaula Okmulgee Okmulgee County Coordinates Murray 34[degrees]30'28.44"N, 96[degrees]58'5.88"W Johnston 34[degrees]14'10.32"N, 96[degrees]40'42.96"W Bryan 33[degrees]59'32.64"N, 96[degrees]23'49.56"W Pushmataha 34[degrees]13'52.32"N, 95[degrees]37'12.72"W Choctaw 34[degrees]30'38.52"N, 95[degrees]30'34.92"W Logan 35[degrees]52'44.04"N, 97[degrees]25'31.08"W Kay 36[degrees]48'16.2"N, 97[degrees]15'11.16"W Noble 36[degrees]17'22.2"N, 97[degrees]17'17.16"W Canadian 35[degrees]30'24.12"N, 97[degrees]40'21"W Osage 36[degrees]11'36.96"N, 95[degrees]56'17.52"W Rogers 36[degrees]16'10.2"N, 95[degrees]51'16.92"W Creek 35[degrees]59'55.32"N, 96[degrees]6'51.12"W Wagoner 36[degrees]3'39.24"N, 95[degrees]47'51"W Pittsburg 34[degrees]56'0.24"N, 95[degrees]46'10.56"W McIntosh 35[degrees]17'14.28"N, 95[degrees]34'57"W Okmulgee 35[degrees]37'24.24"N, 95[degrees]57'38.16"W County Date of capture CUMZ no. Murray 14 August 2014 231 Johnston 14 August 2014 232 Bryan 14 August 2014 234 Pushmataha 15 August 2014 235 Choctaw 15 August 2014 236 Logan 22 August 2014 238 Kay 22 August 2014 239 Noble 22 August 2014 240 Canadian 22 August 2014 241 Osage 30 August 2014 242 Rogers 30 August 2014 243 Creek 31 August 2014 244 Wagoner 31 August 2014 245 Pittsburg 21 September 2014 246 McIntosh 21 September 2014 247 Okmulgee 31 September 2014 248
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|Author:||White, Jared W.; Husak, Michael S.; Willis, Ray E.|
|Date:||Dec 1, 2016|
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