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Experimentally derived salinity tolerance of hatchling Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) from the Everglades, Florida (USA)

January 19, 2012

In a laboratory setting, we tested the ability of 24 non-native, wild-caught hatchling Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) collected in the Florida Everglades to survive when given water containing salt to drink. After a one-month acclimation period in the laboratory, we grouped snakes into three treatments, giving them access to water that was fresh (salinity of 0, control), brackish (salinity of 10), or full-strength sea water (salinity of 35). Hatchlings survived about one month at the highest marine salinity and about five months at the brackish-water salinity; no control animals perished during the experiment. These results are indicative of a "worst-case scenario", as in the laboratory we denied access to alternate fresh-water sources that may be accessible in the wild (e.g., through rainfall). Therefore, our results may underestimate the potential of hatchling pythons to persist in saline habitats in the wild. Because of the effect of different salinity regimes on survival, predictions of ultimate geographic expansion by non-native Burmese pythons that consider salt water as barriers to dispersal for pythons may warrant re-evaluation, especially under global climate change and associated sea-level-rise scenarios.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Experimentally derived salinity tolerance of hatchling Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) from the Everglades, Florida (USA)
DOI 10.1016/j.jembe.2011.11.021
Authors Kristen M. Hart, Pamela J. Schofield, Denise R. Gregoire
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Experimental Marine Biology and Ecology
Series Number
Index ID 70007158
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Southeast Ecological Science Center