Biology, Impacts and Control of Invasive Reptiles
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Invasive species are considered to be second only to habitat degradation in terms of negative impacts on the Earth’s ecosystems, and our scientists make up a significant proportion of the global expertise in the rapidly-growing problem of invasive reptiles.
Long-term research on Guam has led to development and validation of numerous effective control tools, while more recent research in Florida and elsewhere focuses on understanding impacts and control opportunities for Burmese pythons and other recent invaders. Branch scientists combine extensive herpetological expertise with cutting-edge quantitative skills to estimate detection probability, population size, and eradication prospects for a range of invasive reptiles. Projects and collaborators span the globe, from the western Pacific Ocean, across the United States mainland, to Puerto Rico and beyond.
Below are other science projects associated with this project.
Date published: July 7, 2016
This project involves ongoing development of tools for the detection and capture of invasive reptiles in Florida, with an emphasis on Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) and Black and white tegu lizards (Salvator merianae). The goals are to reduce the risk of reptile invasions in high-value resources such as Everglades National Park and the Florida Keys, to access early detection methods of...
Date published: July 6, 2016
Scientists with the USGS Brown Treesnake Project conduct research on this snake species, including control tool development and testing, ecological impacts, and early detection methods. USGS holds Brown Treesnake Rapid Response Team training courses on Guam throughout the year to develop the skills needed to effectively respond to snake sightings in island environments. Training covers snake...
Date published: July 6, 2016
The Brown Treesnake is a highly destructive reptile species that has extirpated many native species of birds, bats, and lizards from the U.S. Territory of Guam. For more than two decades branch scientists with the Invasive Reptile Project have developed, validated, and tested the feasibility of Brown Treesnake control and suppression at various spatial scales.
Date published: July 5, 2016Status: Active
It is not uncommon to see researchers cruising around Everglades National Park (ENP) on what has been a routine basis for the past ten months. Every evening, interns pack into a Chevy Volt for their shift assisting the U.S. Geological Survey in conducting Burmese Python (Python molurus bivittatus) nighttime surveillance through observational surveys. This effort to detect non-native snakes,...
Date published: July 3, 2016
Since the mid-1990s, several species of non-native, giant constrictor snakes, such as Burmese pythons and boa constrictors, have surfaced in localities throughout southern Florida. Several are known or suspected to be breeding and appear to be spreading northward. Increasingly, media and other reports of sightings or encounters with these animals have emphasized the dangers they could impose...
Date published: June 25, 2016
Invasive reptiles like the Burmese python (Python bivittatus) and Black-and-White Tegu Lizard (Tupinambis merianae) are exerting tremendous harm on Everglades ecosystems, but these problematic species present an excellent opportunity to engage the next generation in science. Since entering into an agreement with Everglades National Park in late 2013, the Invasive Species Science Branch of the...
Below are publications associated with this project.
Supersize me: Remains of three white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) in an invasive Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) in Florida
Snakes have become successful invaders in a wide variety of ecosystems worldwide. In southern Florida, USA, the Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) has become established across thousands of square kilometers including all of Everglades National Park (ENP). Both experimental and correlative data have supported a relationship between Burmese...Boback, Scott M.; Snow, Ray W.; Hsu, Teresa; Peurach, Suzanne C.; Dove, Carla J.; Reed, Robert N.
Brumation of introduced Black and White Tegus, Tupinambis merianae (Squamata: Teiidae), in southern Florida
An established population of Tupinambis merianae (Black and White Tegu) in southeastern Florida threatens the Everglades ecosystem. Understanding the behavioral ecology of Black and White Tegus could aid in management and control plans. Black and White Tegus are seasonally active and brumate during the winter in their native range, but brumation...McEachern, Michelle; Yackel Adams, Amy A.; Klug, Page E.; Fitzgerald, Lee A.; Reed, Robert N.
The influence of disturbed habitat on the spatial ecology of Argentine black and white tegu (Tupinambis merianae), a recent invader in the Everglades ecosystem (Florida, USA)
The threat of invasive species is often intensified in disturbed habitat. To optimize control programs, it is necessary to understand how degraded habitat influences the behavior of invasive species. We conducted a radio telemetry study to characterize movement and habitat use of introduced male Argentine black and white tegus (Tupinambis merianae...Klug, Page E.; Reed, Robert N.; Mazzotti, Frank J.; McEachern, Michelle A.; Vinci, Joy J.; Craven, Katelin K.; Yackel Adams, Amy A.
Assessing risks to humans from invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park, Florida, USA
Invasive Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) are now established across a large area of southern Florida, USA, including all of Everglades National Park (NP). The presence of these large-bodied snakes in the continental United States has attracted intense media attention, including regular reference to the possibility of these snakes...Reed, Robert N.; Snow, Ray W.
Python molurus bivittatus (Burmese python). Minimum size at maturity
No abstract available.Willson, John D; Snow, Ray W; Reed, Robert N.; Dorcas, Michael E
Invasive and introduced reptiles and amphibians: Chapter 28
Why is there a section on introduced amphibians and reptiles in this volume, and why should veterinarians care about this issue? Globally, invasive species are a major threat to the stability of native ecosystems,1,2 and amphibians and reptiles are attracting increased attention as potential invaders. Some introduced amphibians and reptiles have...Mader, Douglas R.; Divers, Stephen J.; Reed, Robert N.; Krysko, Kenneth L.
Genetic analysis of a novel invasion of Puerto Rico by an exotic constricting snake
The tropical island Puerto Rico is potentially vulnerable to invasion by some species of exotic snakes; however, until now no established populations had been reported. Here we report and genetically characterize the nascent invasion of Puerto Rico by an exotic constricting snake of the family Boidae (Boa constrictor) using mtDNA and...Reynolds, R. Graham; Puente-Rolón, Alberto R.; Reed, Robert N.; Revell, Liam J.
Severe mammal declines coincide with proliferation of invasive Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park
Invasive species represent a significant threat to global biodiversity and a substantial economic burden. Burmese pythons, giant constricting snakes native to Asia, now are found throughout much of southern Florida, including all of Everglades National Park (ENP). Pythons have increased dramatically in both abundance and geographic range since...Dorcas, Michael E.; Wilson, John D.; Reed, Robert N.; Snow, Ray W.; Rochford, Michael R.; Miller, Melissa A.; Meshaka, Walter E.; Andreadis, Paul T.; Mazzotti, Frank J.; Romagosa, Christina M.; Hart, Kristen M.
Snakes in the wrong places: Gordon Rodda’s career in invasive species research
When USGS research zoologist Gordon G. Rodda was a graduate student at Cornell University studying behavioral biology of alligators —or later, completing a post-doc at the Smithsonian Institute studying the social behavior of green iguanas in Venezuela or following that, as a statistics and sociobiology instructor at the University of Tennessee—he...Wilson, Jim
Boa constrictor (Boa constrictor): foraging behavior
Boa constrictor is often referred to as a sit-and-wait or ambush forager that chooses locations to maximize the likelihood of prey encounters (Greene 1983. In Janzen [ed.], Costa Rica Natural History, pp. 380-382. Univ. Chicago Press, Illinois). However, as more is learned about the natural history of snakes in general, the dichotomy between...Sorrell, G.G.; Boback, M.S.; Reed, R.N.; Green, S.; Montgomery, Chad E.; DeSouza, L.S.; Chiaraviglio, M.
Cold-induced mortality of invasive Burmese pythons in south Florida
A recent record cold spell in southern Florida (2–11 January 2010) provided an opportunity to evaluate responses of an established population of Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) to a prolonged period of unusually cold weather. We observed behavior, characterized thermal biology, determined fate of radio-telemetered (n = 10)...Mazzotti, Frank J.; Cherkiss, Michael S.; Hart, Kristen M.; Snow, Ray W.; Rochford, Michael R.; Dorcas, Michael E.; Reed, Robert N.