Invasive Species

A nonnative species could become invasive soon after becoming established, like the Cuban tree frog. It was introduced in 1931 through packing materials, and has invaded Florida's natural areas, preying on our native tree frogs. Cuban tree frogs rapidly spread in south Florida and were common throughout most of the state by the 1970's.

On the other hand, it might take years for the right factors to fall into place to allow a species to expand its range and cause ecological problems. For example, green iguanas have resided in Florida since the 1960's, but their population has increased greatly since Hurricane Andrew.  Although green iguanas have not had ecological impacts, this Central and South American lizard causes significant economic damage to landscape plants, primarily in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.  On Florida's west coast, black spinytail iguanas have reached such abundance that many residents view them as a nuisance, and the town of Boca Grande has considered hiring trappers to remove them. 

Some invasive animals do not cause problems in all areas. The nutria, a large rodent from South America, lives in warm, marshy areas. It is abundant in the lowlands of Louisiana and Mississippi, but Florida populations have not been very successful even though Florida has similar habitats to other Gulf Coast states.



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