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FGCU's "Moonlight on the Marsh" Series Concludes Feb. 27
With Lecture on Invasive Pythons in Florida
FORT MYERS, Fla. - "Biggest python ever captured in Florida caught in Miami-Dade County." "18-foot Burmese python found in Florida Everglades." "Florida engineers find, kill monster Burmese python."
Recent headlines like these have lots of people talking about pythons. The impact of these massive, invasive snakes on native wildlife and the efforts to control them will be the focus of the final "Moonlight on the Marsh" lecture presented this academic year by the Everglades Wetland Research Park of Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU).
Michael E. Dorcas, a biology professor at Davidson College in North Carolina and a published snake specialist, will present "The Problem of Invasive Pythons in the United States" at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 27 at FGCU's Harvey Kapnick Education and Research Center at the Naples Botanical Garden, 4940 Bayshore Drive, Naples. Admission is free, but seating is limited. An entertaining film screening will follow at 8 p.m.
Dorcas' research focuses on the ecology, physiology and conservation of amphibians and reptiles. He is involved in studies of pythons in Florida and published the book "Invasive Pythons in the United States" (The University of Georgia Press; 2011) with John D. Willson.
These peerless predators native to Southern Asia are one of the largest snake species in the world and can grow to more than 20 feet and 200-plus pounds.
"Burmese pythons are now established firmly as an invasive species over a large portion of southern Florida," Dorcas says. "Since recognition as a reproducing population in 2000, the number of pythons found and their geographic range has expanded considerably. Pythons already appear to have caused severe declines in several species of once common mammals, such as raccoons, opossums, rabbits and bobcats, but the overall impacts they will have on South Florida ecosystems remain mostly unknown."
In its second year, "Moonlight on the Marsh" presents distinguished scientists from around the world discussing timely topics for students, other scientists and the general public.
"The 2013-14 series has focused on some of the gigantic ecological and environmental issues we have in Southwest Florida," said William J. Mitsch, director of the Everglades Wetland Research Park and the Juliet C. Sproul Chair for Southwest Florida Habitat Restoration and Management at FGCU.
After the Feb. 27 lecture, Mitsch and Dorcas will provide "Mystery Science Theatre 3000"-style comic commentary for a free screening of "Mega Python vs. Gatoroid," an over-the-top made-for-TV movie about giant snakes and gators in the Florida Everglades. The film, which begins at 8 p.m., was originally shown on the SyFy Channel and stars 1980s pop singers Debbie Gibson and Tiffany.
Admission is free, but seating is limited. Call (239) 325-1365 for reservations. For more information about the series, go online to http://www.fgcu.edu/swamp/files/MOM_2014_Dorcas_lecture_opt.pdf.