In many ecosystems food-web dynamics are driven by spatial and temporal variation in the availability of sugar resources, which form the primary or even exclusive dietary constituents for many species. Scale insects (Hemiptera) produce sugar-rich honeydew, which can be a keystone sugar source in honeydew ecosystems worldwide. In New Zealand, most previous research in honeydew ecosystems has been conducted in areas where herpetofauna are heavily suppressed by introduced predators. Consequently, little is known about potential trophic interactions between endemic lizards and scale insects.
The longevity of common geckos (Hoplodactylus maculatus) on predator-free Motunau Island, North Canterbury, was investigated. Sixteen of 133 individuals marked between 1967-75 were re-captured in the summer of 1996/97. A growth curve was generated to estimate the age of these geckos at first capture, and from this their age in 1996/97; 10 were estimated to be at least 36 years old. In this cool-temperate habitat, H. maculatus matures late and has a low annual reproductive output over an extended lifespan.