Marsh rabbit mortalities tie pythons to the precipitous decline of mammals in the Everglades

Proceedings of the Royal Society B
By: , and 

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Abstract

To address the ongoing debate over the impact of invasive species on native terrestrial wildlife, we conducted a large-scale experiment to test the hypothesis that invasive Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) were a cause of the precipitous decline of mammals in Everglades National Park (ENP). Evidence linking pythons to mammal declines has been indirect and there are reasons to question whether pythons, or any predator, could have caused the precipitous declines seen across a range of mammalian functional groups. Experimentally manipulating marsh rabbits, we found that pythons accounted for 77% of rabbit mortalities within 11 months of their translocation to ENP and that python predation appeared to preclude the persistence of rabbit populations in ENP. On control sites, outside of the park, no rabbits were killed by pythons and 71% of attributable marsh rabbit mortalities were classified as mammal predations. Burmese pythons pose a serious threat to the faunal communities and ecological functioning of the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, which will probably spread as python populations expand their range.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Marsh rabbit mortalities tie pythons to the precipitous decline of mammals in the Everglades
Series title Proceedings of the Royal Society B
DOI 10.1098/rspb.2015.0120
Volume 282
Issue 1805
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher The Royal Society Publishing
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 7 p.; Article 20150120
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Everglades
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N