Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Burmese Pythons Will Find Little Suitable Habitat Outside South Florida, Study Suggests

Date:
August 15, 2008
Source:
Public Library of Science
Summary:
Burmese Pythons may have chosen Florida as a vacation destination, but are unlikely to expand further, according to a new study. Although the United States Geological Survey earlier this year released "climate maps" indicating that the pythons could inhabit up to 32 states in the US, new research indicates that the snakes are unlikely to expand out of Florida.

Burmese pythons may have a potentially catastrophic effect on the ecosystem in Florida's Everglades, but the snakes are unlikely to expand further, according to a new study.
Credit: iStockphoto/Pauline Mills

Burmese Pythons – one of the largest snakes in the world – may have chosen Florida as a vacation destination, but are unlikely to expand further, according to a new study by researchers at the City University of New York (CUNY. Although the United States Geological Survey (USGS) earlier this year released 'climate maps' indicating that the pythons could potentially inhabit up to thirty two states in the continental U.S., new research indicates that the snakes are unlikely to expand out of south Florida.

Related Articles


In addition to large predators like alligators, crocodiles and panthers, visitors to Everglades National Park can now view another conspicuous giant predator – the Burmese python. The snakes may have a potentially catastrophic effect on the ecosystem in the Everglades, and have even been found with critically endangered species in their stomachs. This raises two questions. First, what is the potential for further expansion of the snakes in the U.S.? Second, how will global climate change affect these alien invaders?

Alex Pyron and Tim Guiher, graduate students at the City University of New York (CUNY) working with Dr. Frank Burbrink at the College of Staten Island/CUNY, used records on the distribution of pythons in their native range along with high resolution global climate databases to predict the potential extent of the python's distribution in the U.S. and model the possible effects of global warming on the snakes. Although the USGS maps were intended to model areas where the climate of the U.S. matched the climate of the native range of the Burmese python (India and southeast Asia), their models only took into account two variables measuring mean monthly rainfall and temperature.

"By using more complete climate data, in this case 19 variables measuring climatic extremes, averages and seasonal variation, we can make more accurate predictions of species distributions," said Alex Pyron. "Combining this climatic data with localities for the Burmese python allows us to create powerful models for predicting suitable habitat for the snakes."

The results of the models suggest that the pythons are restricted to the vicinity of the Everglades in extreme south Florida, so while wildlife authorities will have their hands full dealing with established populations of these snakes, people outside of Florida should not fear an inexorable northward expansion.

"When modeling species distributions, it is important to consider a large amount of climatic data and evaluate the methods used, especially when dealing with important issues such as invasive species whose ecological limitations may not be immediately obvious," said Tim Guiher.

Perhaps the most surprising results of the study are the forecast results of global warming. While the USGS maps indicated that a doubling of CO2 levels would result in even more suitable habitat in the U.S., those same scenarios of global warming produce drastically different results using the CUNY researcher's model. Their results indicate that suitable habitat will contract significantly in the U.S., and will be decimated in the native range of the python. Such a scenario is likely not unique to the Burmese python, and highlights areas of potential study for climate change biology.

Ultimately, while the pythons are proving to be far more than a nuisance in the Everglades, the climate of the continental U.S. will likely keep them there. Far from flourishing under potential scenarios of global warming, the snakes are predicted to be seriously impacted by models of global climate change, a fate which is likely not unique to the pythons.

According to Dr. Burbrink, "Snakes already get an unwarranted bad reputation and the last thing needed in our current biodiversity crisis is to drum up more hatred of these animals by suggesting an impending full scale North American invasion by pythons when properly constructed climate models suggest the opposite."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Public Library of Science. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Pyron et al. Claims of Potential Expansion Throughout the U.S. by Invasive Python Species Are Contradicted by Ecological Niche Models. PLoS ONE, 2008; 3 (8): e2931 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0002931

Cite This Page:

Public Library of Science. "Burmese Pythons Will Find Little Suitable Habitat Outside South Florida, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 15 August 2008. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080812213816.htm>.
Public Library of Science. (2008, August 15). Burmese Pythons Will Find Little Suitable Habitat Outside South Florida, Study Suggests. ScienceDaily. Retrieved October 25, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080812213816.htm
Public Library of Science. "Burmese Pythons Will Find Little Suitable Habitat Outside South Florida, Study Suggests." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/08/080812213816.htm (accessed October 25, 2014).

Share This



More Earth & Climate News

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

EU Gets Climate Deal, UK PM Gets Knock

Reuters - Business Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) EU leaders achieve a show of unity by striking a compromise deal on carbon emissions. But David Cameron's bid to push back EU budget contributions gets a slap in the face as the European Commission demands an extra 2bn euros. David Pollard reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Deep Sea 'mushroom' Could Be Early Branch on Tree of Life

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Oct. 24, 2014) Miniature deep sea animals discovered off the Australian coast almost three decades ago are puzzling scientists, who say the organisms have proved impossible to categorise. Academics at the Natural History of Denmark have appealed to the world scientific community for help, saying that further information on Dendrogramma enigmatica and Dendrogramma discoides could answer key evolutionary questions. Jim Drury has more. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

Raw: Tornado Rips Roofs in Washington State

AP (Oct. 24, 2014) A rare tornado ripped roofs off buildings, uprooted trees and shattered windows Thursday afternoon in the southwest Washington city of Longview, but there were no reports of injuries. (Oct. 24) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Fast-Moving Lava Headed For Town On Hawaii's Big Island

Newsy (Oct. 24, 2014) Lava from the Kilauea volcano on Hawaii's Big Island has accelerated as it travels toward a town called Pahoa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins