Cite this article: McCleery RA, Sovie A, Reed
RN, Cunningham MW, Hunter ME, Hart KM.
2015 Marsh rabbit mortalities tie pythons to
the precipitous decline of mammals in the
Everglades. Proc. R. Soc. B 282: 20150120.
Received: 20 January 2015
Accepted: 23 February 2015
Burmese python, marsh rabbit, Everglades
Author for correspondence:
Robert A. McCleery
Electronic supplementary material is available
at http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2015.0120 or
& 2015 The Author(s) Published by the Royal Society. All rights reserved.
Marsh rabbit mortalities tie pythons to
the precipitous decline of mammals in
Robert A. McCleery1, Adia Sovie1, Robert N. Reed2, Mark W. Cunningham3,
Margaret E. Hunter4 and Kristen M. Hart5
1Department of Wildlife Ecology and Conservation, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL, USA
2United States Geological Survey, Fort Collins Science Center, Fort Collins, CO, USA
3Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Gainesville, FL, USA
4United States Geological Survey, Southeast Ecological Science Center, Gainesville, FL, USA
5United States Geological Survey, Southeast Ecological Science Center, Davie, FL, USA
To address the ongoing debate over the impact of invasive species on native
terrestrial wildlife, we conducted a large-scale experiment to test the hypoth-
esis that invasive Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) were a cause
of the precipitous decline of mammals in Everglades National Park (ENP).
Evidence linking pythons to mammal declines has been indirect and
there are reasons to question whether pythons, or any predator, could
have caused the precipitous declines seen across a range of mammalian
functional groups. Experimentally manipulating marsh rabbits, we found
that pythons accounted for 77% of rabbit mortalities within 11 months of
their translocation to ENP