Thanks to Anthropocene for providing a summary of recent science on a topic of concern in these pages from time to time in the last few years:
by Brandon Keim
The Florida Everglades are one of Earth’s biological marvels, a vast slow-moving river in whose marshes live—even at this late date, with water diverted, pollution injected and human development steadily destroying—a wondrous and singular array of creatures. Yet the Everglades are also undergoing a dramatic ecological upheaval. They’re home to a new and invasive apex predator: Burmese pythons.
Descended from escaped or abandoned pets, the pythons established a breeding population late in the 20th century. Their predatory habits are the stuff of viral legend (Google “python bursts after eating alligator”) and conservation concern, with researchers having documented dramatic mammal declines where pythons have proliferated. In those areas, once-common creatures like raccoons, opossums, and white-tailed deer are nearly extirpated.
So what next? That’s the big question and the subject of a new Journal of Applied Ecology study by biologist John Willson of the University of Arkansas. Curious about the future of a python-regulated ecosystem, Willson dug scores of artificial turtle nests across and outside the pythons’ range, then used motion-triggered cameras to monitor nest predation. (Rather than turtle eggs, Willson’s nests contained quail eggs.)…
Source: Willson, JD. “Indirect effects of invasive Burmese pythons on ecosystems in southern Florida.” Journal of Applied Ecology, 2017.