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Burmese Python Studies Conflict

A new study on Burmese python range in the U.S. paints a different picture than one released in February.

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A new study examining the potential range of invasive Burmese pythons in the United States paints a different picture than one released in February.

Released in August on the online, open-access journal PLoS One, the new research by Alex Pyron and other City University of New York researchers suggests wild Python molurus bivittatus are unlikely to spread beyond Southern Florida, where the snakes are already known to exist. An earlier study by the U.S. Geological Survey included “climate match” maps showing the pythons could inhabit up to 32 states.


Both studies used climate data from India and Southeast Asia (the native range of Python molurus) and global warming forecasts in their models, but Pyron said the CUNY study factored in more variables than the USGS study’s two.

“By using more complete climate data, in this case 19 variables measuring climatic extremes, averages and seasonal variation, we can make more accurate predictions of species distributions,” he said. “Combining this climatic data with localities for the Burmese python allows us to create powerful models for predicting suitable habitat for the snakes.”

The results, CUNY researchers wrote, show the USGS models were excessively broad and didn’t represent an accurate picture of the potential current or future extent of the Burmese python in the United States.