Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation
Perspectives in Ecology and Conservation 2017;15:25-31 DOI: 10.1016/j.pecon.2017.02.004
Research Letters
Investigating movement behavior of invasive Burmese pythons on a shy–bold continuum using individual-based modeling
Holly E. Mutascioa, Shannon E. Pittmanb,, , Patrick A. Zollnera
a Department of Forestry and Natural Resources, Purdue University, West Lafayette, United States
b Department of Biology, Davidson College, Davidson, United States
Received 21 October 2016, Accepted 27 February 2017
Abstract

Burmese pythons are established in the Everglades and are expanding their population in Florida to more urbanized and fragmented habitats. Understanding movement and dispersal behavior contributes to our knowledge of how landscape factors influence the persistence of pythons in Florida's habitat. Our goal was to examine personality-dependent dispersal in juvenile Burmese pythons by creating behavioral scenarios of risk-taking behavior on a shy–bold continuum using an individual-based model. We observed that a behaviorally plastic strategy best resembled empirically derived patterns of the Burmese python's expansion from the Everglades into the increasingly urbanized landscapes of Homestead and Miami, Florida. This result is consistent with the notion that animal personalities can be flexible in different situations and that animals must make decisions based on trade-offs while dispersing.

Keywords
Burmese pythons, Individual-based modeling, Invasion biology, Personality-dependent dispersal, Shy–bold continuum