Environmental DNA (eDNA) Sampling Improves Occurrence and Detection Estimates of Invasive Burmese Pythons
FORT scientists, Dr. Sara Oyler-McCance, Jennifer Fike, Dr. Bob Reed and others recently published an article entitled,"Environmental DNA (eDNA) Sampling Improves Occurrence and Detection Estimates of Invasive Burmese Pythons" in the journal PloS ONE. Giant constrictor snakes pose a threat to native species and the ecological restoration of the Florida Everglades.
Research Wildlife Biologist, Dr. Bob Reed, was recently interviewed by Retro Report, which publishes essays and documentary videos that re-examine leading stories. His comments and emphasis on the continuing lack of effective prevention contributed to the April 5, 2015 New York Times story on the unwanted snake species, the Burmese python (Python bivittatus), that is disrupting the ecosystem balance in the Florida Everglades.
A new study provides the first empirical evidence that Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) caused reductions in marsh rabbit populations in Everglades National Park, after researchers had discovered Burmese pythons ate 77 percent of radio-tracked marsh rabbits. A new publication by the University of Florida and the U.S.
Dr. Bob Reed was interviewed by CBS News for a featured story, "Burmese pythons are taking over the Everglades," which was published on March 19, 2015 shortly after the release of a cooperative study with U.S.
Invasive species have become one of the greatest environmental challenges of the 21st century in economic, environmental, and human health costs. In fact, invasive species cost an estimated $120 billion per year in the United States. The Invasive Species Science Branch at the Fort Collins Science Center provides research and technical assistance relating to management concerns for invasive species, including understanding how these species are introduced, identifying areas vulnerable to invas
Michelle McEachern (FORT) spoke with Yael Herman at OurNationalParks.US on December 4, 2014 regarding an article about Argentine tegus in southern Florida. They discussed why scientists and land managers are concerned about Argentine tegus, how tegus arrived in southern Florida, if tegus pose the same threat as the Burmese python, how to control Argentine tegus, and whether Argentine tegus pose a threat to humans. A publication date for this article is unknown.
The Weather Channel's Secrets of the Earth "Animal Invaders": FORT Invasive Species Scientists Highlighted
"Secrets of the Earth: Animal Invaders" debuted Monday, December 1, at 7:00 p.m. MST on The Weather Channel. The show covered invasive animals in America from Burmese pythons in the Everglades to snake-like fish in the Potomac and killer bees in Texas. A lack of predators is helping these invasive species to take control in certain areas.
FORT's Bob Reed was recently interviewed by Amy Grisdale for an article on Burmese Pythons in the Everglades. The article was published in issue 14 of World of Animals Magazine. The Burmese python, one of the largest snakes in the world, is native to south-east Asia, but in recent years many have made themselves at home in the Everglades after escaping from captivity or even having been released by unknowing pet owners.
Burmese Pythons are one of the largest snakes in the world and a mainstay of the pet trade resulting in the establishment of an invasive population in South Florida. Researching the invasive population has lead scientists to learn more about the biology of this species. A recent capture of a relatively small sized pregnant female in Florida suggests that P. molurus may mature more rapidly than otherwise thought, in the wild. Typical growth rates in Florida or Asia are undoubtedly slower.
A new publication has been released by FORT scientists about invasive Burmese pythons. Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) are now established across a large area of southern Florida, USA, including all of Everglades National Park. 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 preying on humans.
On August 13-14, 2014 Bryan Falk and Michelle McEachern will be interviewed by a crew from Flight 33 Productions for a Weather Channel documentary on invasive species. Falk and McEachern will discuss the current USGS research on invasive reptiles in the Everglades ecosystem, and will take the film crew into the field to document the USGS research projects on invasive Burmese pythons and Argentine black and white tegus. A release date for the documentary is unknown.
On July 2, 2014, USGS biologists Bryan Falk and Michelle McEachern will give a presentation about invasive reptiles to Congresswoman Betty McCollum, of the 4th District, MN. Discussion points will include the scope of the invasive reptile problem in southern Florida, USGS research on invasive Burmese pythons and Argentine black-and-white tegus, and leveraging citizen scientists’ efforts to facilitate research.
On June 24, 2014, Emily Wortman-Wunder - a freelance reporter writing for High Country News - interviewed Dr. Amy Yackel Adams regarding an essay she is writing on invasive species in the U.S. Dr. Yackel Adams discussed the stages of the invasion process as well as difficulties associated with trying to generalize the invasion process across different species and different systems.
Everglades National Park Leadership Get Lesson on Invasive Species from USGS Scientists Bryan Falk and Michelle McEachern
On June 3, 2014 FORT/USGS biologists Bryan Falk and Michelle McEachern gave a presentation about invasive reptiles to Everglades National Park leadership, including Acting Superintendent Shawn Beng and Deputy Superintendent Justin Unger. Discussion points included the scope of the invasive reptile problem in southern Florida, USGS research on invasive Burmese pythons and Argentine black-and-white tegus, and leveraging citizen scientists’ efforts to facilitate research.
Michelle McEachern, a biological science technician stationed at Everglades National Park, is this year's recipient of the USGS Safety and Occupational Health Award of Excellence. Michelle conducts research and management activities on invasive reptiles including Burmese pythons. She independently designed, built, and tested a new apparatus for euthanasia of these giant constrictor snakes that greatly reduces human health risks and ensures that the process is humane for the animals.
USGS Scientist Michelle McEachern will give a presentation on the USGS research of invasive reptiles in southern Florida on May 6, 2014 in Reston, Virginia. Michelle will talk about a USGS-National Park Service agreement that Bob Reed and Kristen Hart entered into with Everglades National Park, Big Cypress National Preserve, and Biscayne National Park beginning in September 2014.
On April 28, 2014 Michelle McEachern will be participating in visual searches for pythons with the "Swamp Apes," a non-profit group, as part of a feature on the group's work by a South Florida TV station. The Swamp Apes organize veterans and volunteers in python and invasive animal removals and also clear wilderness trails in the Everglades.
On Thursday, April 3, 2014 Bob Reed spoke at an invited seminar at the University of Northern Colorado titled 'Burmese pythons in Florida: Biology, impacts, and the importance of detection probability.' This seminar was part of the Department of Biology's seminar series and focused on the evidence showing that pythons are causing declines in native mammal populations in Florida and that an understanding of snake detection probability is central to understanding population size and control opp
In a recent press statement, the supervisor of Everglades National Park recounted the results of a human risk assessment of the danger pythons pose to visitors and staff. The estimated tens of thousands of Burmese pythons now populating the Everglades present a low risk to people in the park, according to a new assessment by U.S. Geological Survey and National Park Service scientists.
On February 19, 2014 Karen Sughrue, a documentary producer with Retro Report, interviewed Dr. Bob Reed regarding pythons in the Florida Everglades for a weekly documentary series. Dr. Reed discussed the history of pythons in Florida, current issues involving tegu lizards in Florida, and public perception of invasive species in the United States. The documentary is in the early stages of production so a release date is not known.
On February 13th, Bryan Falk, a biologist stationed at Everglades National Park, briefed Congressman DeFazio (4th District, Oregon) on the biology and impacts of invasive reptiles including Burmese pythons and Argentine tegus. Other participants in the briefing included Dan Kimball (Everglades NP Superintendent) and Tylan Dean (Everglades National Park Chief for Biology).
A forthcoming article in the Wildlife Society Bulletin by Robert N. Reed (USGS-FORT) and Ray W. Snow (NPS, retired) examines the risks that Burmese pythons pose to human health in Everglades National Park. The authors examined the few known cases of unprovoked python strikes towards humans and found that such strikes were uncommon and resulted in no serious injuries, and that none of the strikes were directed towards park visitors.
Dr. Bob Reed spoke with Monica McFarland, a writer and producer for the Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom, on August 21st regarding a webisode focusing on Tegu lizards and the dangers they pose as an invasive species. Dr. Reed discussed the collaborative nature of FORT's ongoing work on tegus, their abundance and rate of spread, and general issues related to invasive reptiles in Florida. Michelle McEachern, a FORT biologist stationed in Florida, spoke with Ms.
On May 20, 2013 USGS scientist Dr. Bob Reed was interviewed by Deborah Netburn of the Los Angeles Times regarding a nineteen foot Burmese python, of record setting length, that was removed from Everglades National Park this past week. The reporter had questions about the size of this python relative to other pythons that have been found in the Everglades, and asked questions about impacts and control of invasive pythons in Florida.
An interview on invasive snakes with Bob Reed was included in May issue of the Year of the Snake newsletter. The newsletter is a joint product of several reptile-focused NGO's, and is designed to raise awareness of snakes during the Chinese Year of the Snake in 2013. The newsletter can be read online: http://www.parcplace.org/images/stories/YOS/YearoftheSnakeNewsMay.pdf
USGS scientists Bob Reed and Kristen Hart briefed DOI Secretary Jewell on May 1, 2013 on exotic invasive reptiles, including pythons that are living in Everglades National Park. The briefing was part of the Secretary's visit to the Everglades ecosystem. A few days later, On May 3, Bob Reed and Kristen Hart also briefed Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) on the problem of invasive reptiles in Florida with the main focus being on Burmese pythons and Argentine tegus.
On April 9, 2013 FORT scientists Bob Reed and Tom Stohlgren gave presentations on their USGS research at the IGNITE Biodiversity event hosted by the School of Global Environmental Sustainability at Colorado State University. Reed and Stohlgren, along with the fourteen other speakers invited to this event, were selected to represent the variety of biodiversity-focused research in the greater CSU community.
On March 27, 2013 Michelle McEachern gave a presentation to the National Research Council's Committee on Independent Scientific Review of Everglades Restoration Progress (CISRERP) regarding the status of Argentine Tegu (Tupinambis merianae) research and the controls used in areas adjacent to Everglades National Park.
Mary Wozniak, senior staff writer with the Fort Myers News-Press, contacted USGS scientist Bob Reed on February 14 to discuss the likelihood of pythons attacking humans and thus impacting tourism. Reed responded that though the odds were minuscule, the risk shouldn't be ignored. The article is expected to appear within the next week.
Kevin Wadlow with the Florida Keys Keynoter contacted USGS scientist Bob Reed on February 12th to discuss the efficacy of the recent Python Challenge held in southern Florida in terms of both python population control and raising awareness about invasive species. The article appeared in the Keys Keynoter newspaper on February 13th, 2013.
Martin Klingst, a Bureau Chief with Die Zeit, a German weekly publication, contacted USGS scientist Bob Reed on February 11th, 2013 to discuss python control tools, efficacy of human searchers for python control, detection rates, and abundance estimates.
Alex Leary, an independent journalist, contacted USGS scientist Bob Reed on January 31st to discuss python ecology and control opportunities. The journalist hopes to sell the story to The Nature Conservancy or Audubon magazines.
USGS economists Leslie Richardson, Lynne Koontz, and Chris Huber, in collaboration with the University of Florida and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), are conducting an assessment of the value of ecosystem services that will be affected by restoration activities in Florida's central Everglades.
FORT scientist Bob Reed and biologists Jim Duquesnel and Ed Metzger were USGS members of a collaborative effort recognized with a 2012 DOI Partners in Conservation award. The Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (ECISMA), nominated by the National Park Service, was one of 17 projects selected for this annual award and is the one in which the FORT personnel were involved (and for which they were recognized). The USGS-FORT contingent provides the following to ECISMA:
On 14 June 2012 USGS scientist Robert Reed is giving a 1-hour invited talk, entitled "Invasive Snakes of Interest to Refuges," to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Refuges Annual Integrated Pest Management and Invasive Species Regional Coordinators' Meeting, being held at the USFWS Natural Resource Program Center, Fort Collins, CO. Dr.
The Brown Treesnake (BTS) Technical Working Group Spring 2012 meeting, held 25 April 2012 on Guam, featured presentations on BTS research and control and interdiction efforts, as well as newly emerging invasive species issues in the Marianas. Presenters were from the University of Guam, Guam Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense, U.S. Department of Agriculture, and USGS (including Colorado State University collaborators and others).
A new USGS podcast features FORT scientist and co-author Robert Reed discussing the results of a recent scientific paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences describing the apparent effects of Burmese python predation on mid-sized mammals in Everglades National Park.
A new Web feature describes FORT zoologist Gordon Rodda's illustrious 25-year career researching the ecology and impacts of invasive snake species and developing means of control and containment. Dr. Rodda has been intimately involved in what have proven to be two of the biggest reptile-invasion problems in the U.S. and its territories: the brown treesnake on Guam, and giant constrictor snakes in south Florida.
Burmese pythons appear to be having a marked effect on some prey populations in South Florida, according to a paper published online 30 January 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The research conducted by USGS, NPS, and university scientists shows a strong correlation between abundance of pythons in an area and precipitous declines in certain mid-sized mammal populations, such as marsh rabbits and raccoons.
A new paper by USGS scientists Gordon Rodda, Catherine Jarnevich, and Robert Reed describes the challenges in using certain models to produce climate-matching maps that forecast where invasive animals could potentially become established, with an emphasis on Burmese pythons. Currently, Burmese pythons are established in southern Florida. The new paper, published Feb.
Right now in Florida, non-native, giant constrictor snakes—pythons, anacondas, and the boa constrictor—are being found in the wild, and two species have established several breeding populations. The snakes pose a considerable resource management challenge for agencies charged with preserving native ecosystems and species.
In recent years, media and other reports of non-native, giant constrictor snakes found in both wild and urbanized areas of southern Florida is alarming. Several snake species are known to be breeding and appear to be spreading northward. The Fort Collins Science Center, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and other cooperators are collaborating on research and testing intervention methods to understand and control these novel predators.
The U.S. Department of the Interior recently recognized FORT Research Zoologist Thomas J. O’Shea with the Meritorious Service Award for his outstanding scientific contributions to the USGS in mammalian wildlife ecology and conservation. This award recognizes DOI employees who have demonstrated longstanding excellence in serving Interior’s mission. Throughout his 30-year career, Dr.
FORT mammal specialist Tom O'Shea will provide the keynote address at the First International Manatee and Dugong Conference, to be held at the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta on March 23-24. Manatees and dugongs occur in waters of over 60 countries on five continents. Dr. O'Shea will give a broad overview of knowledge on the biology of these species (Order Sirenia) gained over the past 15 years.
FORT herpetologist Robert Reed was an invited speaker for the Wild Aruba 2008 conference in Aruba, Aug. 25-29. He presented on control tools for snakes and their potential applicability for controlling invasive Boa Constrictors on Aruba, then participated in a facilitated 3-day workshop designed to prioritize environmental planning for the next 5 years on Aruba. Dr.
For the 6th World Congress of Herpetology, held Aug. 17-22 in Manaus, Brazil, FORT scientists Bob Reed and Erin Muths organized symposia on invasive reptiles and amphibians (Reed) and disease and amphibian declines (Muths). Co-organizers with Dr. Muths were Trenton W.J. Garner (Zoological Society of London) and Jean-Marc Hero (Griffith University, Australia); Dr. Reed worked with Fred Kraus (Bishop Museum, Honolulu). Drs.
Invasive Burmese pythons could find comfortable climatic conditions in roughly one third of the United States according to new "climate maps" developed by FORT scientists. Although other factors such as type of food available and suitable shelter also play a role, Burmese pythons and other giant constrictor snakes have shown themselves to be highly adaptable to new environments.
Invasive species of plants, animals, diseases, and pathogens are estimated to cause more than $137 billion annually in damage to Americans in economic, ecological, and human health costs. Invasive species are best managed by preventing their establishment in the first place or by halting their spread to unaffected areas. But how? The USGS, NASA, and Colorado State University have teamed up to develop a tool to map invasive species and predict where they could be headed.
The cryptic and nocturnal habits of bats render it difficult to assess trends in the status of their populations. To meet this challenge, USGS biologists Mike Bogan and Tom O'Shea hosted an expert workshop to examine the topic of monitoring the status of bat populations. The proceedings are contained in a newly released report, “Monitoring Trends in Bat Populations of the United States and Territories: Problems and Prospects,” Information and Technology Report USGS/BRD/ITR—2003-003.
Over 22 million of the current 34 million acres of the USDA’s Conservation Reserve Program (CRP) contracts will expire in 2007 and 2008. With that rapidly approaching reality in mind, the USDA Farm Service Agency and the U.S. Geological Survey's Fort Collins Science Center sponsored a national conference June 6-8 in Fort Collins, Colorado, on the future of the Conservation Reserve Program.
The National Wildlife Refuge System Improvement Act of 1997 requires that all U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service National Wildlife Refuges develop Comprehensive Conservation Plans (CCPs) to guide refuge management over the next 15 years. One of the FWS’s specific needs was improving the science component of these plans.
The Conservation Reserve Program remains the largest environmental program administered by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, with enrollment exceeding 34 million acres nationwide. Because improvement in program performance is an important goal of CRP administrators, participants' input on how the program is working "on the ground" is an important factor in its evaluation.
These days, natural resource management is as much about effective human relations as it is about sound science. But many land, water, and resource managers struggle with the social components of their work. To address this need, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's (FWS) National Conservation Training Center (NCTC) sponsored a course in Basic Natural Resource Negotiation May 7-9 in Fort Pierce, Florida.
During November 11-16, USGS scientists Jim Sartoris, Joan Thullen, and Larry Barber will present a paper entitled "Effect of hemi-marsh reconfiguration on nitrogen transformations in a southern California treatment wetland" at the Seventh International Conference on Wetland Systems for Water Pollution Control in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.