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Origin and Population Growth of the Brown Tree Snake, Boiga irregularis, on Guam

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Title: Origin and Population Growth of the Brown Tree Snake, Boiga irregularis, on Guam
Authors: Rodda, Gordon H.
Fritts, Thomas H.
Conry, Paul J.
Issue Date: Jan 1992
Publisher: University of Hawai'i Press
Citation: Rodda GH, Fritts TH, Conry PJ. 1992. Origin and population growth of the brown tree snake, Boiga irregularis, on Guam. Pac Sci 46(1): 46-57.
Abstract: After the accidental introduction of the Brown Tree Snake, Boiga
irregularis, to the island of Guam after World War II, the snake became
exceedingly numerous, and most of Guam's native vertebrates either became
endangered or disappeared from the island. In this paper we summarize what is
known about populations of this snake on Guam and the likely origin of the
Guam population. Scale counts and transportation records suggest that the
Guam population originated in the Admiralty Islands, about 1500 km south of
Guam. It was probably transported to Guam in ships that transported salvaged
war materiel after World War II. For ca. 35 yr after its introduction, the
presence of the snake on Guam was documented only by popular accounts,
occasional photographs, and a few museum specimens, indicating that the
snake's distribution was fairly limited initially, but ultimately a period of sharp
population growth and wide dispersal occurred, with the snake reaching all parts
of the island by the late 1960s. Peak population levels were attained about a
decade or more after each area was colonized. Mark-recapture and removal data
indicate that the capture of 50 snakes per ha at one site in northern Guam during
1985 probably represented a population density of around 100 snakes per ha,
but by 1988 this population had declined to around 30% of the 1985 density.
However, this reduction may not be permanent. In central Guam, where the
snake irrupted decades ago, the snake's numbers have continued to fluctuate,
and in some cases it has attained densities in excess of 50 per hectare.
ISSN: 0030-8870
Appears in Collections:Pacific Science Volume 46, Number 1, 1992

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