The spectacled caiman, a species native to Central and South America, has been established in Florida since the 1970s. The pet trade and crocodilian farming industries, escapes and deliberate releases made it possible for caimans to invade the Florida Everglades.
They pose a threat to native wildlife occupying the same habitat as our native alligators and crocodiles, competing for food and other resources. Meanwhile, they also prey upon birds, small mammals, fish and other reptiles.
In a new University of Florida study, published in the journal Management of Biological Invasions, wildlife biologists at the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences (IFAS) reveal how a series of efforts and strategies led to successful control and removal of caimans in specific areas of the Everglades.
“This study demonstrates the effects that the combination of early detection, rapid response, and persistent removal efforts can have on an invasive species,” said Sidney Godfrey, a wildlife biologist at the UF/IFAS Fort Lauderdale Research Education Center (UF/IFAS FLREC) and lead author of the study.
Scientists consider their removal efforts and the results of the study a significant milestone for invasion science, as its applications can be leveraged and expanded to other invasive species found statewide and globally.