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New Species in Florida

New Species in Florida

Author: Hugh Bollinger/Sunday, May 22, 2016/Categories: natural history, wildlife conservation, sustainability, environment

                                               Nile crocodile (credit: Wikipedia)

Florida is often considered the US 'poster child' for invasive species. From Burmese pythons to Australian melaleuca trees to Asian lionfish, the State's ecosystems are constantly threatened by something new becoming established there. Now research from the University of Florida and Everglades National Park have determined that Nile crocodiles (Crocodylus niloticus) have become the latest species to arrive from elsewhere.

According their article in Herpetological Conservation and Biology, Florida has more introduced amphibians that any other region on Earth. The Florida researchers used DNA typing to determine species identification and native range. The analyses showed that two of the crocodiles they collected were most closely related to Nile crocdiles thus representing the first documented successful establishment of the animals into Florida.

Over the last decade, crocodiles have been imported into Florida for zoological displays and the pet trade. It's hard to imagine keeping a Nile crocodile as a pet but that is the most likely route of release for the individuals identified in the Everglades. The individuals observed by the field researchers likely represent only a small number of extant individuals as crocodiles reproduce well in marshy environments like the Everglades.

A video shows that crocs have a nasty disposition so fishing or swimming in their new territory would be ill-advised.



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