In a new paper, Hunter et al. (2019) used environmental DNA (eDNA) to detect the presence of the invasive Burmese Python. Environmental DNA is shed into the environment through skin cells and bodily fluids and can be detected in water samples collected from lakes, rivers, and swamps. In south Florida, invasive Burmese pythons (Python bivittatus) occupy much of the Greater Everglades in mostly inaccessible habitat and are credited with causing severe declines in populations of native species. Detection of Burmese pythons by traditional methods, including trapping and visual searching, has been largely ineffective, making eDNA a superior method to identify invaded areas. The authors adapted a quantitative PCR eDNA assay for use in droplet digital PCR, a state-of-the-art method that improves the precision and accuracy of eDNA detection and quantification. From August 2014 to October 2016, locations in and around Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in southeast Florida were surveyed for Burmese python eDNA. Positive eDNA detections were made in each of the five sampling events, assessing a total of 399 samples, with moderate-to-high occurrence (ψ = 58–91%) and moderate detection (p = 38–70%) probabilities, potentially reduced by a high presence of PCR-inhibiting compounds in the water. The high occurrence rates and geographic distribution of the positive samples within Loxahatchee suggests a steady release of python eDNA from resident Burmese pythons and reduces support for the idea that transport of eDNA was the result of boats or flowing water from the north. The first confirmed sighting of a Burmese python in the Refuge occurred in September 2016 after eDNA testing had indicated the presence of pythons. While the established population boundary is thought to be south of Loxahatchee, the eDNA detections indicate a northern range limit at, or north of, the refuge on the eastern side of the Florida peninsula. Our study demonstrates the utility of eDNA for determining more accurate range limits and expansion information for Burmese Pythons and provides a means for assessing control efforts.
Hunter ME, Meigs-Friend G, Ferrante JA, Smith BJ, Hart KM. 2019. Efficacy of eDNA as an early detection indicator for Burmese pythons in the ARM Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem. Ecological Indicators, 102:617-22.
I am a retired science educator and naturalist. My research focuses on reptiles, mostly snakes. Also, I am interested in dogs and their evolution. Protecting the environment should be a high priority for everyone, particularly politicians. They seem to be in denial over the idea that the environment is our life support system - once it's damaged, it may not be fixable.
World Snake Day is July 16. The day is important to the conservation of snakes. Snakes live on every continent except Antarctica and can vary from the longest species, the reticulated python, to the smallest Barbados Threadsnake. Snakes try to avoid human contact. They consider humans predators. Venomous snakes (and many) use their venom to obtain food and only use it for defense when forced to. World Snake Day can help remove people's fears and illusions about snakes, and help them gain recognition as a marvelous adaptable apex species. World Snake Day can be used to educate and inform people about how to deal with snakes. Let's not mis this opportunity.
World Lizard Day
August 14th is World Lizard Day. It's the perfect time to show some love for these remarkable creatures that have been sharing our planet since the time of the dinosaurs. With over 6,000 known species, lizards come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, and patterns, and you can find them on every continent except Antarctica. But why should we celebrate lizards, you ask? Well, they're not just cool to observe in their natural habitats but also essential players in many ecosystems. Lizards help keep insect populations in check, which is vital to our ecosystems. So, let's give these amazing creatures the recognition they deserve on this special day! tems worldwide.
World Turtle Day
Turtles and tortoises have secured their enduring places as enduring symbols in folklore, fables, and popular culture, enchanting our imaginations with their representations of wisdom and resilience. Annually, on May 23, we gather with delight to observe World Turtle Day, a dedicated day that pays homage to these unwavering creatures. Turtles and tortoises, both esteemed members of the reptile family, inhabit an array of diverse environments worldwide, where they play pivotal roles within their ecosystems.
These extraordinary beings don’t merely excavate burrows that become abodes for various other species; they also provide a valuable service by assisting in maintaining the cleanliness of our beaches. Their diet includes the remains of deceased fish that wash ashore, making a substantial contribution to ecological equilibrium. This underscores the profound significance of safeguarding these gentle creatures.
World Turtle Day stands as an occasion specially designated to celebrate and protect both of these remarkable creatures. Its origins can be traced back to 2002 when American Tortoise Rescue introduced this meaningful event. It casts a spotlight on the myriad challenges that turtles and tortoises confront due to human intervention and environmental hazards. On this special day, educational institutions, rescue centers, and nature enthusiasts unite to deepen their understanding of these creatures and pledge unwavering commitments to their preservation.
Here are some impactful ways in which you can actively participate in the endeavor to safeguard these exceptional animals: Adopt a Turtle or Tortoise: Contemplate adopting a turtle or tortoise from a rescue shelter. These low-maintenance creatures make ideal companions, especially for families with young children.
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