GeoWorld March 2012

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NEWSLINK Pythons in Everglades Devastating Mammal Populations Invasive Burmese pythons are behind a consider- able decline in common mammals in Florida's 1.5- million-acre Everglades National Park, according to research led by scientists from Davidson College and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech). "Our research adds to the increasing evidence that predators, whether native or exotic, exert major influence on the structure of animal communities," said John "J.D." Willson, a post-doctoral researcher in Virginia Tech's Wildlife Ecotoxicology and Physiological Ecology Program. "The effects of declining mammal populations on the overall Everglades ecosystem, which extends well beyond the national park boundar- ies, are likely profound, but are probably complex and difficult to predict." The research points to the most-severe declines occurring in raccoon, rabbit and opossum popula- tions in southernmost regions of the park, where these mammals have nearly disappeared. In these regions, according to researchers, raccoon popula- tions dropped 99.3 percent, opossums by 98.9 percent and bobcats by 87.5 percent. Meanwhile, marsh rabbits, cottontail rabbits and foxes weren't seen at all. The findings were published in early 2012 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Included with the study is a map that charts locations in South Florida where pythons were found during 2008 and 2009. "The magnitude of these declines underscores the apparent incredible density of pythons in Everglades National Park and justifies the argument for more intensive investigation into their ecological effects as well as the development of effective control meth- ods," said Michael Dorcas, lead author and Davidson College biology professor who co-authored "Invasive Pythons in the United States" with Virginia Tech's Willson. "Such severe declines in easily seen mam- mals bode poorly for the many species of conserva- tion concern that are more difficult to sample but may also be vulnerable to python predation." The researchers collected information through nighttime road surveys within the park, where they counted live as well as "road-killed" animals and trav- eled nearly 39,000 miles between 2003 and 2011. Study authors noted that the timing and geographic patterns of documented decline in mammal popula- tions were consistent with the timing and geographic spread of pythons. "This severe decline in mammals is of significant con- cern to the overall health of the park's large and com- plex ecosystem," said Dan Kimball, Everglades National Park superintendent. "We will continue to enhance our efforts to control and manage the non-native python and better understand the impacts on the park." Name Change Aims to Align Sister Companies Geospatial services provider Pixxures Inc., a sub- sidiary of XeDAR, changed its name to Premier Geospatial Inc. "We're building a strong family of companies, Red triangles show locations where pythons were found between 2008 and 2009 in the Everglades region. A rise in the invasive python population has coincided with a decline in many mammal populations in the area. 6 GEO W ORLD / MA R CH 2O12 and we wanted the brand to have a more unified feel," said Peter Briere, general manager of Premier Geospatial. The name change puts the company more in line, namewise, with its sister organization, Premier Data Services. Both companies are headquartered in PNAS

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