Biological Invasions

, Volume 12, Issue 11, pp 3649–3652 | Cite as

Cold weather and the potential range of invasive Burmese pythons

  • Michael L. Avery
  • Richard M. Engeman
  • Kandy L. Keacher
  • John S. Humphrey
  • William E. Bruce
  • Tom C. Mathies
  • Richard E. Mauldin
Invasion Note

Abstract

The Burmese python (Python molurus bivittatus) is established in Everglades National Park and neighboring areas in south Florida. Beyond its substantial ecological impacts to native fauna in south Florida, concerns have been raised as to its potential to occupy other parts of the USA, even as far north as Washington, DC. During a recent period of cold weather, seven of nine captive Burmese pythons held in outdoor pens at our facility in north-central Florida died, or would have died absent our intervention. This cold-induced mortality occurred despite the presence of refugia with heat sources. Our findings cast doubt on the ability of free-ranging Burmese pythons to establish and persist beyond the subtropical environment of south Florida.

Keywords

Burmese python Florida Geographic range Invasive species Python molurus bivittatus 

References

  1. Aubret F, Shine R (2010) Thermal plasticity in young snakes: how will climate change affect the thermoregulatory tactics of ectotherms? J Exp Biol 213:242–248CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Barker DG (2008) Will they come in out of the cold? Observations of large constrictors in cool and cold conditions. Bull Chicago Herpetol Soc 43:93–97Google Scholar
  3. Bilger B (2009) Swamp things. New Yorker 85:80–89Google Scholar
  4. Collins TM, Freeman B, Snow S (2008) Final report: genetic characterization of populations of the nonindigenous Burmese python in Everglades National Park. Final report for the South Florida Water Management District. Department of Biological Sciences, Florida International University, Miami, FloridaGoogle Scholar
  5. Jacobs HJ, Auliya M, Böhme W (2009) Zur taxonomie des dunklen tigerpythons, Python molurus bivittatus Kuhl, 1820, speziell der population von Sulawesi. Sauria 31:5–16Google Scholar
  6. Meshaka WE Jr, Loftus WF, Steiner T (2000) The herpetofauna of Everglades National Park. Florida Sci 63:84–103Google Scholar
  7. Pyron RA, Burbrink FT, Guiher TJ (2008) Claims of potential expansion throughout the U.S. by invasive python species are contradicted by ecological niche models. PLoS ONE 3:e2931CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  8. Rodda GH, Jarnevich CS, Reed RN (2009) What parts of the US mainland are climatically suitable for invasive alien pythons spreading from Everglades National Park? Biol Inv 11:241–252CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Snow RW, Krysko KL, Enge KM, Oberhofer L, Walker-Bradley A, Wilkins L (2007) Introduced populations of Boa constrictor (Boidae) and Python molurus bivittatus (Pythonidae) in southern Florida. In: Henderson RW, Powell R (eds) The biology of boas and pythons. Eagle Mountain Publishing, Eagle Mountain, UT, pp 416–438Google Scholar

Copyright information

© US Government 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Michael L. Avery
    • 1
  • Richard M. Engeman
    • 2
  • Kandy L. Keacher
    • 1
  • John S. Humphrey
    • 1
  • William E. Bruce
    • 1
  • Tom C. Mathies
    • 2
  • Richard E. Mauldin
    • 2
  1. 1.USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research CenterGainesvilleUSA
  2. 2.USDA, Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service, Wildlife Services, National Wildlife Research CenterFort CollinsUSA

Personalised recommendations