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We surveyed the Naval Air Station in Key West, FL, to document state-listed herpetofauna in 2 different vegetation types using 3 motion-detecting infrared cameras centered within radiating drift fences. Cameras were activated on 21 June 2021 and retrieved on 30 November 2021. Of 225,153 photos taken, 1210 were of vertebrates (603 of herpetofauna, 512 of mammals, and 95 of birds). July produced the most photographs of vertebrates per camera day (6.84/camera day), whereas August had the fewest (1.17/camera day), likely due to low precipitation. The mean time of day when vertebrate photos were taken was midday at 1247 hours. We found no Florida-listed birds or herpetofauna present on Navy lands during our camera-trap research; however, we did have 259 photos of the federally endangered Sylvilagus palustris hefneri (Lower Keys Marsh Rabbit). Additionally, 4 species of invasive herpetofauna were detected.
Varanus salvator (Asian Water Monitor) is the second largest species of lizard in the world and is a member of the Varanidae Family. This highly aquatic species can also be found in arboreal environments and is an active predator and scavenger. Originating from southeastern Asia, including parts of India, this species is common in the international pet trade. Its popularity in the pet trade has led to multiple introductions outside of their native range, making this a species of concern as potentially invasive to the southeastern US with ready access to the Caribbean and Latin America. As a generalist species that has already been identified in Florida, there is a high likelihood for establishment as an invasive species. In cases such as these, implementing early detection and rapid response for successful management of invasive species is critical. Here, we provide a comprehensive summary of natural history findings on the Asian Water Monitor, including management methods and potential ecological impacts as an invasive species.
Dispersal is an important factor in shaping ecosystems and patterns of biodiversity. However, animals use several different modes of dispersal, each of which can have varying impacts on the ecology and evolutionary history of a group. One of these modes is phoresy, when an animal (the phorant) will temporarily attach itself to another animal (the host) as a means of dispersal. This behavior has been described in many groups of animals, but very infrequently in the thrips (Insecta: Thysanoptera). Here, we report the collection of 2 species of live thrips, Hoplothrips sp. and Neohydatothrips variabilis, from 2 species of live birds, Cardinalis cardinalis (Northern Cardinal) and Zenaida macroura (Mourning Dove), respectively, in northeast Arkansas. Most previous records of thrips associated with birds were from nesting material or found on deceased birds. The presence of thrips on live birds suggests some thrips are phoretic on birds, or at the very least that interactions between thrips and birds are more frequent than previously assumed.