tegu-BBS

Wildlands Conservation is working to remove Argentine black and white tegus (Salvator merianae) through a project funded by the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. Argentine black and white tegus have been established in Hillsborough County since the mid-2000s1. As part of this research, Wildlands is determining the spatial extent of the tegu invasion, the rate of spread, and the cost of eradication. Because the costs associated with removal have such a high influence in determining optimal strategies for control, and funds are limited, determining the most cost-effective strategies for removal efforts is crucial to establish an effective management strategy for tegus in Hillsborough County.

Wildlands has employed a combination of camera and live trapping and spatial capture-recapture techniques2 to determine tegu population densities, population-level habitat-density correlations, and removal efficiency in the core of the Hillsborough County population. We have established a grid of baited camera stations across a diversity of habitats, including those areas where tegus are known to occur. Data is then collected from camera stations for a period of two weeks to determine patterns of tegu activity centers and to generate a density surface map to explore any potential habitat correlations. Baited live traps are then set at all stations with documented tegu presence and checked daily.

As a result of having hundreds of camera stations in Hillsborough County, Wildlands has captured many pictures of native Florida wildlife too. Below are some photos that our staff particularly enjoyed.

If you’d like to help Wildlands remove tegus from Hillsborough County, please contact Dr. Neal Halstead at nhalstead@wildlandsconservation.org for volunteer information.

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1Engeman, R., Jacobson, E., Avery, M.L., Meshaka, W.E., 2011. The aggressive invasion of exotic reptiles in Florida with a focus on prominent species: A review Assessing Risk of Establishment 57, 599–612.

2Chandler, R.B., Royle, J.A., 2013. Spatially explicit models for inference about density in unmarked or partially marked populations. Ann. Appl. Stat. 7, 936–954.