Environmental DNA Surveys of Burmese Pythons in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem

Open-File Report 2021-1082
By: , and 



Improving the probability of detecting invasive giant snakes is vital for the management of emerging or established populations. Burmese pythons occupy thousands of square kilometers of mostly inaccessible habitats in Florida. Environmental DNA (eDNA) methods have been shown to be time and cost effective in a number of systems and may be preferable to traditional detection methods for constrictor snakes, having been shown to be effective at detecting Burmese pythons where traditional and novel detection methods have failed. The purposes of this study were (1) to estimate Burmese python eDNA occurrence in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem based on land-use type; and (2) to conduct preliminary surveys within the Greater Everglades Ecosystem for positive eDNA detections. Twenty-eight sites were sampled in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem, with 5 field replicate samples per site, for a total of 140 water samples collected. Python eDNA was detected in samples from 25 of the 28 sites by using droplet digital polymerase chain reaction amplification. Abiotic parameters were collected and explored, but we found no conclusive relationship among them and python eDNA detections. eDNA monitoring of aquatic habitats can assist in identifying newly colonized areas where pythons have not been previously detected, as well as movement corridors and pathways of dispersal. This information could be used to delimit a population boundary as it expands further to the north in peninsular Florida.

Suggested Citation

Beaver, C.E., Meigs-Friend, G., and Hunter, M.E., 2021, Environmental DNA surveys of Burmese pythons in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem: U.S. Geological Survey Open-File Report 2021–1082, 17 p., https://doi.org/10.3133/ofr20211082.

ISSN: 2331-1258 (online)

Study Area

Table of Contents

  • Acknowledgments
  • Abstract
  • Introduction
  • Methodology
  • Results and Interpretations
  • References Cited
  • Appendix 1. Definitions and Explanations for Frequently Used Terminology
Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Environmental DNA surveys of Burmese pythons in the Greater Everglades Ecosystem
Series title Open-File Report
Series number 2021-1082
DOI 10.3133/ofr20211082
Year Published 2021
Language English
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Publisher location Reston, VA
Contributing office(s) Southeast Ecological Science Center, Wetland and Aquatic Research Center
Description Report: vi, 17 p.; Data Releases
Country United States
State Florida
Other Geospatial Greater Everglades Ecosystem
Online Only (Y/N) Y
Google Analytic Metrics Metrics page
Additional publication details