When to target control efforts? Using novel GPS telemetry to quantify drivers of invasive Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) movement

Biological Invasions
By: , and 

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Abstract

In South Florida, the Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae), a large, omnivorous lizard, has become a recent threat to the Everglades ecosystem. The increase in tegu observations, especially near ecologically sensitive areas such as Everglades National Park, makes informed management critical to contain the tegu population. Using Very High Frequency (VHF) and Global Positioning System (GPS) telemetry, we tracked 24 tegus in the Southern Glades Wildlife Management Area and Redland Agricultural Area in Homestead, Florida from March 2016 to November 2018 and March 2021 to January 2022. We used generalized additive models to determine factors that drive tegu movement to inform managers when traps and surveillance plots are most likely to be effective. Our top model included temporal (time of day and time of year), environmental (air temperature, relative humidity, rain, and wind speed from closest weather station), and biological (sex) variables. This model explained 34.6% of the deviance in tegu minimum rate of movement. We determined that tegus were most active between mid-March and mid-April, and tegu minimum rate of movement positively correlates with air temperature (i.e., highest activity during the hottest part of the day in the early afternoon). We observed a slight positive trend between tegu minimum rate of movement and relative humidity, and no clear trend between rate of movement and either rainfall or wind. Our results can inform natural resource management actions to target tegu removal and surveillance during high activity periods to maximize resource use.

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title When to target control efforts? Using novel GPS telemetry to quantify drivers of invasive Argentine black and white tegu (Salvator merianae) movement
Series title Biological Invasions
DOI 10.1007/s10530-024-03272-y
Edition Online First
Year Published 2024
Language English
Publisher Springer Nature
Contributing office(s) Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
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