Large snakes in Florida
How could these large snakes change South Florida’s ecosystems? What about other ecosystems?
Most invasive reptiles and amphibians have not received research attention at a level that would allow in-depth evaluation of impacts. The python invasion of Florida is so recent that the full ramifications of its introduction on the state’s unique native plants, animals and ecosystems cannot yet be made.
Researchers do not yet know how a specific ecosystem in South Florida will be – or is already being - disrupted by the addition of a novel predator – like a giant snake, but from experience with other ecosystems disrupted by introduced snakes, researchers know that serious disruption is a distinct possibility.
In South Florida, researchers are already documenting significant negative impacts on the ecosystem due to Burmese pythons. Specifically, drastic declines in the populations of mid-sized native mammals such as bobcats, raccoons, opossums, and rabbits in Everglades National Park are correlated in space and time with the presence of Burmese pythons.
As the snake population continues to grow, the anticipated harmful impacts are expected to increase as well, likely having a profound negative effect on the ecosystem, the food web, or ecosystem processes, as invasive reptiles have elsewhere.
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