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 Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades

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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:17 am

Regardless of what's happening in Virginia, Florida is having some : very real problems
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:21 am

I was just about to post that article. The receptionist at work just e-mailed me the link.
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:23 am

I've been getting bombarded at my job about this because everyone knows I'm the snake man. Smile
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ichopz
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:37 am

thats crazy!!! 87 eggs... DAMN!!!!!!!!
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:44 am

Has anyone ever had that kind of luck with their snakes? Smile
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:53 am

87 eggs!!!! WOW!!!! It's very bad how much they are affecting the ecosystem down there.

Larry - This might be impossible to do, and it would probably have a negative impact on Burma, but instead of killing the snakes here, couldn't we ship them (or the eggs) back so their population could become stronger? I was researching this for a paper and it said that they are very low in numbers because of the extreme amount of exportation.
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Jabberwocky Dragons
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:13 am

Wow, just an unbelievably low level of journalist dishonesty.

Quote :
"This thing is monstrous, it's about a foot wide," said Florida Museum herpetology collection manager Kenneth Krysko. "It means these snakes are surviving a long time in the wild, there's nothing stopping them and the native wildlife are in trouble."

Since the rodent population as well as the populations of other apex predators like panthers and coyotes are increasing, it's just not possible that the Burmese are causing any kind of ecosystem devastation. In such a case, we should be seeing the rodent population diminished along with the predators that rely on them.


This Kyrsko has an agenda and won't let anything get in his way. I found this pretty interesting:

Quote :
Florida has the world's worst invasive reptile and amphibian problem. Krysko led a 20-year study published in September 2011 in Zootaxa showing 137 non-native species were introduced to Florida between 1863 and 2010. The study verified the pet trade as the No. 1 cause of the species' introductions and the Burmese python was one of 56 non-native species determined to be reproducing and established in the state.

What kind of journalist doesn't include a link to a cited study? Anyways here it is:

http://www.scribd.com/doc/67886564/Verified-Non-Indigenous-Amphibians-and-Reptiles-in-Florida-1

I haven't finished reading it yet but so far it looks Kysko completely fabricated virtually every instance of a pet trade as the cause of a species introduction. The exact phrase used is "This species likely was released or had escaped (stage 2) from an enclosure." Without any evidence or proof such claims are repeatedly made. Anyone want to guess if this study was taxpayer funded?

Finally, one of the opening statements of a supposedly impartial scientist whose job is only supposed to be uncovering the facts, not writing policy. I wonder if his grants (again funded by you and me) would increase if such laws were passed.

"Because current state and federal laws have not been effective in curtailingthe ever-increasing number of illegal introductions, laws need to be modified and made enforceable. At the very least,those responsible for introductions should be held accountable for compensation to clean up (= extermination) of thosespecies for which they are responsible."
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:41 am

Although I agree that the paper does poorly in explaining how he arrived at the routes of dissemination of these exotics and invasive species, what is not at question, is the fact that there are invasive species in Florida. I think it is reasonable, although perhaps not yet proven, for the pet trade, at least in part to be responsible in Florida. The reason is that there are too many irresponsible pet owners that have no clue what they are doing. Compound this with accidental escapes, hurricanes, etc....

This happens everywhere, except that in places like Virginia, clearly these animals could not survive. I've been a believer in states rights when it comes to this issue. If Virginia would be a state where invasive herps would be a problem, I would be for regulating, at least to some extent. Because I believe in perserving the natural herpetofauna....

The thing is here in Virginia there are no such problems. But in Florida, they are having major ecological impacts. Just because panther populations are rising, does not mean there isn't a problem. But the problem is, in my opinion, caused by a multitude of compounding issues not just the pet trade. Clearly, we are devastating the everglades in other ways.... the fact is... no matter how they got there... Burmese and other invasive species, seem to be there for the long haul....

In so far as shipping them back to Burma, that could also cause some problems due to spread of exotic viruses/disease..etc... and that may be a bigger problem that could wipe out those populations even faster.

But i do think we have to be careful at "conspiracy theories" regarding scientists' work. Whether right or wrong, everyone has their ideas of how things are. A healthy critical analysis of the paper, as Jabberwocky has done is great and that's how we are supposed to look at all literature, with a healthy dose of skepticism.... But, it will take other scientist's work to do some research to either confirm or deny these findings. Fact of the matter is we all have to be careful when it comes to "confirmation bias" in our assumptions.

I would caution people to not demonize science. Science is science, we can't fund projects that provide only the conclusions we want...that is not science, that is in fact confirmation bias...

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jw
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:07 pm

iagree
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smb2585
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 12:30 pm

Very well stated Larry
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ichopz
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:11 pm

cheers LARRY smb2585
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Jabberwocky Dragons
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:22 pm

I'm not doubting that Burmese exist in the Everglades and are thus considered invasive due to their exotic nature, but I am waiting to see scientifically accurate papers that show they are in fact causing ecosystem destruction. The science behind the FWS Constrictor rule has widely been denounced as sloppy and false. While a 17 foot Burmese may be an apex predator, how many of the 87 eggs will grow into adulthood? How often will these adults eat?

scratch
Quote :
Everglades National Park spokeswoman Linda Friar said park biologists have "no hard science" demonstrating there has been a dramatic reduction in mammal populations.
scratch

All I see is a media firestorm and less than reputable scientists falling over themselves to get grants, support from government players like Senator Nelson, and media exposure. Where is the hard evidence and facts that show they are destructive enough to ban interstate transport across the country? When people's jobs are being taken from them by the government, there better be hard evidence that shows why it is necessary. It isn't enough to say, that the Everglades are being devastated and there are other reasons but the Burmese are there. This inference is not enough when people lose their jobs and others have to give up their pets when they move from one state to another. Are the Burmese causing this devastation? Or is their impact minimal compared to the damage done by feral cats, pigs, and habitat destruction? Why aren't these other causes with a much greater impact being pushed up and front in the media and by politicians and by the scientists funded by both?


I am a huge supporter of science. I consider myself a scientist and have published papers in peer reviewed medical journals alongside several white papers. Confirmation Bias (great term for this, thank you) is prevalent throughout the scientific world... the leaked emails from East Anglia are a great example. Data points showing their conclusion was incorrect just disappeared and scientists with differing viewpoints were methodically and systemically shut down without giving a chance to present their work. Regardless of anyone's stance on man caused global warming, they should be outraged at the suppression of evidence and other viewpoints that went on behind the scenes at several prominent universities and journals.

How many children have died or been crippled for life because their parents were afraid to give them vaccines because of the study published by Dr. Andrew Wakefield? His study has since been retracted by The Lancet and I believe he eventually even lost his medical license after it was revealed that he was paid by the lawyers representing these parent to "prove" a link. All the worldwide uproar over the MMR vaccine and autism resulted from this single study and a single medical doctor who had a strong financial and personal interest in fabricating a link that didn't exist. The list of similar events can go on and on...

All I am saying is that while "conspiracy theories" don't have their place in science, it is beneficial to have a healthy level of skepticism, especially when the authors are being paid for their results AND the science is blatantly slanted. It doesn't take other scientists to refute such work, just regular people who have the ability to critically think for themselves.



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jw
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:26 pm

Brian, I'd be interested in reading some of your published work. Do you have links to your papers?
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 1:33 pm

Sure, I'll PM you an Open Choice one.
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jw
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:25 pm

Thanks!
When "Hulk-dragons" (BDs exposed to high-dose gamma radiation) start to appear, we'll know the source. smb2585
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Jabberwocky Dragons
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 2:50 pm

No problem, I'll see what I can do.... Inserting the GFP gene using a retroviral delivery system might be possible. They won't have hulk like strength, but they could at least glow green Laughing
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:49 pm

Jabberwocky Dragons wrote:
I'm not doubting that Burmese exist in the Everglades and are thus considered invasive due to their exotic nature, but I am waiting to see scientifically accurate papers that show they are in fact causing ecosystem destruction. The science behind the FWS Constrictor rule has widely been denounced as sloppy and false. While a 17 foot Burmese may be an apex predator, how many of the 87 eggs will grow into adulthood? How often will these adults eat?

That is fair enough... I too think the science behind the FWS constrictor rule was flawed. Especially since it affects all states and not just Florida. My basis for this whole fiasco is to let the states decide for themselves allowing all available data to be evaluated. I think Florida has a good system now. The FWS rule was a lobby effort by you know who.....

I have also found the evidence from some of these studies flawed (example site spotting from cars from Dorcas). I also agree that when you get the media involved everything turns to manure.

I also agree that scientists are not perfect... either and that policy must be driven not just by science, but by GOOD science....

So all in all I agree with you. I just think that we just need to let science do what science does. Eventually competing hypotheses will sort themselves out. What you and I can do is educate legislators... and show competing studies, evidence, etc... as we have done last year in Virginia, which was successful in killing the bills.

Certainly, as a private owner of reptiles and as the president of the VHS, I have lots of vested interest in this matter. As such, I try very hard, and fail at times, to be a bit more cautious and not let my emotions, or my confirmation biases (which I also have, we all do) get in the way of evaluating the issue (not saying anyone here is doing that, just speaking for myself). The paper cited in that article was not the best, but because the record breaking burmese found was analyzed by this team..... they use their research papers in the news article...like everything else, all things you read in the media and in the scientific literature, like you said, must be reviewed carefully, critically and skeptically. But that doesn't always mean that the conclusion reached is going to be the one you want to hear..... certainly we MAY disagree with it... but, in honesty...would you change your mind if there is incontrovertible evidence that the pet trade is indeed causing ecological harm to the everglades? OR are you going to keep denying the veracity of the science as it does not suit your conclusion? I'm asking this generally speaking, not specifically to everyone.

I know scientists are not perfect, believe me, I've been in this field long enough, not so much on the research side of things anymore, I now do Biological Safety for research institutions. But, my thesis dealt with pathogenesis of malaria, and in reviewing the literature, I found flaws, many flaws. However, that doesn't mean that everyone is that way, right? I mean we still have honest scientists, and they have no place else to get grants other than from NIH or NSF or sometimes the DOD. (of course there are private entities that give out money as well).

Grant money is grant money, whether it comes from private entities (criticized for being funded by private corporations) or government (being criticized for wasting money). How does one know whether the science is flawed or not, until it is published? We can't start beating the "we shouldn't fund these scientists" drum until we get to evaluate their work, and unfortunately it needs to be published first.

I think the best thing we can do is educate the public, our legislators and vested parties...that is the goal of the Virginia Herpetological Society. But we are an organization that is neutral politically and will follow the best scientific evidence available to support or not support issues. Certainly we're not going to listen to the guy who has a "python hunter" show in Nat Geo as the best source of information either, only because we may agree with his views...


Last edited by leftoflarry on Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:10 pm; edited 1 time in total
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 4:54 pm

Jabberwocky Dragons wrote:
No problem, I'll see what I can do.... Inserting the GFP gene using a retroviral delivery system might be possible. They won't have hulk like strength, but they could at least glow green Laughing

You could clearly create transgenic lines that stably express GFP, or YFP or any of the other colors associated with fluorescence. We do lots of work here at HHMI regarding cellular markers using GFP. We also use genetically encoded calcium indicators using GFP that allow us to see neuronal activity in real time. Very cool stuff:

http://janelia.org/people/scientist/lin-tian
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Jabberwocky Dragons
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:49 pm

Larry, I think we're in mostly agreement. iagree

I think the subject regarding funding of scientists is going to come down to a debate on the fundamental role of government which this isn't the place for so I'll step back from that one.

Yea, the GFP is incredible. I'm very surprised that we haven't seen more GFP amphibians hit the pet trade lately besides the axolotls.
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:52 pm

I also wanted to add that the problem lies within the broader aspect of scientific literacy. How does one read a scientific study critically? More so, does the general public know the difference between correlation and causation? I think education and scientific illiteracy are to blame for the media spectacle that has become of science in general, including this issue. No scientist will make an absolute claim, the studies can say...this gives evidence to this hypothesis, but no study will say...this is the absolute truth!!! It is the media and the politicians and the lobby groups that take studies out of context... and that is where our focus should really be. Educating reporters, the general public and ESPECIALLY the policy makers, including at the local level. That is the big problem I think.
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:54 pm

This article made me so sad, for so many reasons. Not to mention all the comments on it on Facebook and news sites. It was so depressing to see how many people willingly withhold information from themselves :c
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:55 pm

Jabberwocky Dragons wrote:
Larry, I think we're in mostly agreement. iagree

I think the subject regarding funding of scientists is going to come down to a debate on the fundamental role of government which this isn't the place for so I'll step back from that one.

Yea, the GFP is incredible. I'm very surprised that we haven't seen more GFP amphibians hit the pet trade lately besides the axolotls.

Well yeah government role is a different issue. Smile We'll leave that one alone..that's for another forum.... Laughing

Also, regarding GFP animals, from what I can tell you produce some pretty damn good lines of beardies...I recommended you to a co worker who is looking for beardies, I think she contacted you already.... anyway, you know the genetics, you know the process..... what are you waiting for???? lol
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 5:57 pm

Stray wrote:
This article made me so sad, for so many reasons. Not to mention all the comments on it on Facebook and news sites. It was so depressing to see how many people willingly withhold information from themselves :c

I never read the comments.... keeps me more stable that way... Smile
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Jabberwocky Dragons
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 6:42 pm

leftoflarry wrote:


Well yeah government role is a different issue. Smile We'll leave that one alone..that's for another forum.... Laughing

Also, regarding GFP animals, from what I can tell you produce some pretty damn good lines of beardies...I recommended you to a co worker who is looking for beardies, I think she contacted you already.... anyway, you know the genetics, you know the process..... what are you waiting for???? lol


Thank you for the compliment and referral! Well, we'll see, maybe there'll be some glowing green amphibs in the future smb2585
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 8:54 pm

leftoflarry wrote:
Stray wrote:
This article made me so sad, for so many reasons. Not to mention all the comments on it on Facebook and news sites. It was so depressing to see how many people willingly withhold information from themselves :c

I never read the comments.... keeps me more stable that way... Smile

I try not to, but I always catch at least one or two. It's tragic. I always manage to see all of the "I'm glad they killed it! It's invasive and they're spreading over the US!" comments. Sad
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 10:33 pm

We made GFP zebra fish and mice, they were very cool!!!

I can say I have worked in research for 10 yrs and it's very unsettling how much published information is "fabricated" for lack of a better term, and even if you do read the research papers, how much of it do you (not anyone in particular) understand? It's written in a way to make you believe it so it should always be scrutinized.
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Tue Aug 14, 2012 11:16 pm

Lokielani wrote:
We made GFP zebra fish and mice, they were very cool!!!

I can say I have worked in research for 10 yrs and it's very unsettling how much published information is "fabricated" for lack of a better term, and even if you do read the research papers, how much of it do you (not anyone in particular) understand? It's written in a way to make you believe it so it should always be scrutinized.

The best class i have taken in my graduate studies was a class called "critical analysis of research papers"

The issue again comes to the idea of scientific literacy...how do we train the general population to be scientifically literate?
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leftoflarry
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:33 am

Here is what the power of fluorophores such as GFP with a unique and powerful microscope can accomplish.

http://bcove.me/28yne17x

http://bcove.me/35ckm9ej

http://janelia.org/lab/keller-lab
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:39 am

Larry, I watched that entire video and I understood a lot of what he said. However, if you really want to educate the public on science, I suspect you'd get better results with videos from:


Educating the Public on Science
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PostSubject: Re: Record Setting Burmese Python Found in the Everglades   Wed Aug 15, 2012 9:50 am

Don wrote:
Larry, I watched that entire video and I understood a lot of what he said. However, if you really want to educate the public on science, I suspect you'd get better results with videos from:


Educating the Public on Science

lol! Facepalm
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