INVASIVE SPECIES


A NEW PAGE ABOUT INVASIVE SPECIES, TO BE EXPANDED GRADUALLY. SPECIES FEATURED SO FAR ARE: LIONFISH, CANE TOAD, CORN SNAKE & PLANTS

1. LIONFISH

IMG_0383e.img_assist_custom-246x336

STUNG BY A LIONFISH? TO KNOW MORE CLICK HERE

Lionfish, Bahamas (BNT)

Lionfish, courtesy of Bahamas National Trust

Lionfish by Mark da CunhaA wonderful photograph by Mark da Cunha, with thanks to Albury’s Ferries for the tip-off

Lionfish ex FacebookPosted by Friends of the Environment, Abaco

Lionfish, Abaco (FotE)

LIONFISH ANATOMY

lionfish anatomy

LIONFISH BOUNTY

This flyer reflects the upside of the eradication method that involves large-scale hunts for lion fish with a view to the marketing as a delicacy.Lionfish Bounty

BAHAMAS NATIONAL TRUST INVASIVE SPECIES FACTSHEET

LIONFISH BNT FACTSHEET

The debate about the seemingly unstoppable spread of the invasive lionfish species is well known. There are some who argue strongly that lionfish have their uses, and not merely as a food source. To see ongoing lionfish research by the organisation REEF click HERE To supplement the static projection graphic for lionfish spread (below), here is an active graphic that vividly shows how the species (love them or hate them) has expanded exponentially in numbers and range over a very short period

lionfishanimation 2013

LIONFISH PHOTOGALLERY

sharks-eating-lionfish-biting-three_34121_600x450 sharks-eating-lionfish-mouth-open_34128_600x450-590x357                   

Photo Credits Antonio Busiello. Original Source Nat Geo. Hat tip to http://theseamonster.net

Credit: ABACO SCIENTIST

Lionfish ©Melinda Riger @ GB ScubaLionfish ©Melinda Riger @ GB Scuba copyLionfish ©Melinda Riger @ GB ScubaLionfish ©Virginia Cooper @ G B Scuba

                 Photo Credits: Melinda Riger / Virginia Cooper @ Grand Bahama Scuba

FURTHER READING INVASIVE LIONFISH PORTAL

2. CANE TOADS

The largest toads in the worldCane-toad

CANE TOADS have been making their presence felt on NP, where there is now a bounty on their heads. It’s not clear to what extent, if any, Abaco is affected by these creatures… but like lionfish,  once they arrive somewhere they are hard to get rid of. Here is a simple but informative poster fact sheet about this species, warning of the toxin dangers and advocating ‘kill on sight’. That’s how serious the threat is.

Cane-Toad-sheet.pdf-page-001

3. CORN SNAKES

File:Kornnatter.jpgCornsnake - Conserve Wildlife Foundation NJ

 ABACO SCIENTIST ARTICLES ON A NEW POTENTIAL THREAT TO ABACO’S FAUNA

20 Apr 2013, updated Dec 2013

Introduced Corn Snakes on Abaco & Elsewhere in the Caribbean Region

Posted by Sean Giery

Adult corn snake found on Abaco in December 2013. Map shows the current extent of introduced populations of corn snakes in the region.

Adult corn snake found on Abaco in December 2013. Map shows the current extent of introduced populations of corn snakes in the region.

A while back I posted (link to past post) on the discovery of a hatchling corn snake (Pantherophis guttata) on Abaco.  A few weeks later I found another one, this time an adult.  These observations were recently published in the online journal of the International Reptile Conservation Federation (IRCF).  In addition to documenting their establishment on Abaco, I did a little literature review to show their introduced distribution on other Bahamian Islands as well as the greater Caribbean.

For more details, see the paper here.  However, the gist of the story is that corn snakes are rapidly spreading through the islands of the Caribbean and The Bahamas.  While their effects on native fauna are unknown, conservation organizations should be aware of their potential to become a new invasive predator.

I’ll also plug IRCFs open access journal.  It’s got plenty of well-illustrated articles about reptile and amphibian natural history in The Bahamas and elsewhere.  It’s worth browsing through past issues.

Corn snake

3 Nov 2012

Non-native snake found near Cherokee Sound, Abaco, The Bahamas

Posted by Sean Giery

corn-snake2-300x224

Last week while setting up storm shutters I found a recently hatched corn snake (Pantherophis (Elaphe) guttata) under my house near Cherokee Sound. Corn snakes are not native to The Bahamas, or any of the Caribbean Islands.  It seems records of corn snakes in The Bahamas were first published in the mid-90’s with little new information arising since.  As of now, it seems that their reported distribution includes Grand Bahama and New Providence.  No observations have been reported for Abaco and this may be the first sighting of a corn snake here.  The individual found was a recently hatched juvenile suggesting that there could be a reproducing population on the island.  Future sightings should be reported so that a firmer understanding of the range and status of this species can be better understood.

 Basic Biology: The corn snake (Pantherophis (Elaphe) guttata) is a medium-sized snake (up to 4 feet) native to the eastern US.  Coloration is variable but typically includes reddish-orange saddle-shaped blotches along the back with lighter tan or grey background color.  The belly has a distinct checkerboard pattern.  Like all snakes found in The Bahamas, they are non-venomous and are typically rather docile although will bite if provoked.  The corn snake is a dietary and habitat generalist.  They eat reptiles, birds, eggs, and small mammals.  In their native range they can be found in pine forests, humid deciduous forests, swamps, and grasslands from New Jersey to the Florida Keys.  But throughout their range corn snakes frequently inhabit human structures such as barns.  As with many other snakes they are nocturnal during warmer months and become less active during the winter or during extended dry periods.

Origin: Like many of the world’s introductions, there are likely to be multiple routes by which a corn snake might have found it’s way to Abaco.  Corn snakes can frequently be found in and around human buildings in the US and it is possible that they could get introduced inside shipping containers or in landscaping plants.  Another likely vector is via the pet trade.  Corn snakes are among the most popular pet snakes in the world.  But, as often happens, released or escaped pets can start new populations underscoring the importance of responsible animal keeping.

Implications: As for the potential impacts of an introduced population of these snakes, one can only guess at this point.  However, the broad diet and variety of habitats used by corn snakes in their native range suggests that they may be able to spread throughout the island.  Like many introduced carnivores such as cats, raccoons, and lionfish, corn snakes have the potential to negatively affect native species and disrupt local ecosystems.  I will be looking into this more and will update if there is any new information.

Some recent web references for corn snakes

http://www.flmnh.ufl.edu/herpetology/fl-guide/pantherophisguttatus.htm

http://nationalzoo.si.edu/Animals/ReptilesAmphibians/Facts/FactSheets/Cornsnake.cfm

Corn Snake

4. INVASIVE PLANT SPECIES

Abaco 7 invasive plant species

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