Habitat Selection of the Burmese Python in the Florida Everglades

Science Center Objects

Researchers plotted locations of radio-tagged pythons to create a habitat suitability model.

The Science Issue and Relevance: The Burmese python poses an ongoing threat to the integrity and functions of the Everglades ecosystem and native wildlife, but little is known about their habitat preferences. Models based on daily movements, coupled with daily changes in wetland habitat condition (e.g., hydrology, proximity to resources, temperature) provide a powerful management tool for predicting the spatial and temporal distribution, and potential habitat expansion of the species.

python habitat selection

Figure 1. Summary of python habitat selection.



Methodology for Addressing the IssueLocations of radio-tagged pythons were plotted and straight-line vectors were created between each observed location and the sequential location. Hydrologic, land cover, and climate predictor variables were used to estimate habitat selection for pythons across the study period using resource selection functions (RSFs), which allow available resource units to change daily. One result showed that pythons selected areas closer to upland features (Figure 1, shown in black) with declining maximum temperature. However, they were more likely to expand throughout the marsh with increasing maximum temperature.

python habitat suitability

Figure 2. Python habitat suitability.




Future Steps: The final python habitat suitability model will be validated with an independent set of python observations and applied to near-term water depth and temperature forecast simulations to predict habitat expansion in space and time. Model improvements incorporating new information from satellite telemetry and applications (Figure 2) will greatly improve our ability to predict where and when to target control efforts to limit the expansion of this invasive species.


Related project(s): Everglades Depth Estimation Network (EDEN) for Support of Biological and Ecological Assessments, EVER4CAST