On Wednesday and Thursday, biologists from around South Florida gathered at the Long Key Nature Center in Davie for the annual Everglades Invasive Species Summit.
The conference, sponsored by the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (ECISMA), is intended to share accomplishments and research from the past year, as well as determine what the priorities are for the year to come.
Luckily for South Florida’s human inhabitants, the region’s famous and fearsome pests — pythons and tegu lizards — are a larger cause of concern for the area’s ecosystems than its people.
“Most of the priority species that we work on do not go too far into urban areas,” says Jenny Ketterlin Eckles, a biologist with the Florida Fish & Wildlife Conservation Commission. “They might be located adjacent to urban areas, but one of the reasons they’re a priority is because they’re in natural areas and possibly impacting our natural ecosystems.”
Despite the relative rarity of invasive animal species crossing paths with humans, ECISMA is still calling on the public to help with removal efforts.
The organization has always been committed to educating the public about how to identify harmful species, and the effort has gone digital in the past few years with an iPhone and Android app called “IveGot1.”
If someone comes across an animal that looks out-of-place, they can compare what they’re seeing to an ID guide on the app.
“You take a picture of it, you upload the image and any data that you have, and somebody will see it,” explains Dennis Giardina, co-chair of ECISMA.
With developments like this app, biologists and the public can now work together to minimize the damage these species cause to the region, said speakers at the summit.