Recently introduced mammalian predators have had devastating consequences for biotas of archipelagos that were isolated from mammals over evolutionary time. However, understanding which antipredator mechanisms are lost through relaxed selection, and how they influence the ability of prey to respond to novel predatory threats, is limited. The varying effects on native lizard populations of the relatively recent and patchy history of mammalian introductions to New Zealand’s islands provide an opportunity to examine the consequences of relaxed selection.
Translocation is an important tool in the conservation of New Zealand reptiles. Despite this, it is generally not known how Hoplodactylus geckos respond to being translocated, partly because they are difficult to monitor. In this opportunistic study, common geckos (H. maculatus) were captured from a site at Birdlings Flat (South Island, New Zealand) that was destined for destruction, and released in native coastal shrubland km away. Geckos were sampled monthly using pitfall traps and artificial retreats, with only the latter method yielding captures.