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Concept: South Florida metropolitan area


Invasive apex predators have profound impacts on natural communities, yet the consequences of these impacts on the transmission of zoonotic pathogens are unexplored. Collapse of large- and medium-sized mammal populations in the Florida Everglades has been linked to the invasive Burmese python, Python bivittatus Kuhl. We used historic and current data to investigate potential impacts of these community effects on contact between the reservoir hosts (certain rodents) and vectors of Everglades virus, a zoonotic mosquito-borne pathogen that circulates in southern Florida. The percentage of blood meals taken from the primary reservoir host, the hispid cotton rat, Sigmodon hispidus Say and Ord, increased dramatically (422.2%) from 1979 (14.7%) to 2016 (76.8%), while blood meals from deer, raccoons and opossums decreased by 98.2%, reflecting precipitous declines in relative abundance of these larger mammals, attributed to python predation. Overall species diversity of hosts detected in Culex cedecei blood meals from the Everglades declined by 40.2% over the same period (H(1979) = 1.68, H(2016) = 1.01). Predictions based upon the dilution effect theory suggest that increased relative feedings upon reservoir hosts translate into increased abundance of infectious vectors, and a corresponding upsurge of Everglades virus occurrence and risk of human exposure, although this was not tested in the current study. This work constitutes the first indication that an invasive predator can increase contact between vectors and reservoirs of a human pathogen and highlights unrecognized indirect impacts of invasive predators.

Concepts: Predation, Florida, Dog, Apex predator, Zoonosis, Everglades, South Florida metropolitan area, History of Florida


Navigational ability is a critical component of an animal’s spatial ecology and may influence the invasive potential of species. Burmese pythons (Python molurus bivittatus) are apex predators invasive to South Florida. We tracked the movements of 12 adult Burmese pythons in Everglades National Park, six of which were translocated 21-36 km from their capture locations. Translocated snakes oriented movement homeward relative to the capture location, and five of six snakes returned to within 5 km of the original capture location. Translocated snakes moved straighter and faster than control snakes and displayed movement path structure indicative of oriented movement. This study provides evidence that Burmese pythons have navigational map and compass senses and has implications for predictions of spatial spread and impacts as well as our understanding of reptile cognitive abilities.

Concepts: Ecology, Florida, Everglades, Everglades National Park, Pythonidae, Burmese Python, Python molurus, South Florida metropolitan area


We evaluated correlates of gunshot wound (GSW) injuries in Miami-Dade County, Florida. Firearm-related injury has previously been linked to socio- and geo-demographic indicators such as occupation, income, neighborhood and race in other metropolitan areas, but remains understudied in Miami.

Concepts: Injuries, Wound, Florida, Miami, Hurricane Andrew, Miami-Dade County, Florida, South Florida metropolitan area, Doral, Florida


The bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) is an upper trophic level predator and the most common cetacean species found in nearshore waters of southern Florida, including the Lower Florida Keys (LFK) and the Florida Coastal Everglades (FCE). The objective of this study was to assess contamination levels of total mercury (T-Hg) in skin and persistent organic pollutants (PCBs, PBDEs, DDXs, HCHs, HCB, Σ PCDD/Fs and Σ DL-PCBs) in blubber samples of bottlenose dolphins from LFK (n = 27) and FCE (n = 24). PCBs were the major class of compounds found in bottlenose dolphin blubber and were higher in individuals from LFK (Σ 6 PCBs LFK males: 13,421 ± 7730 ng g(-1) lipids, Σ 6 PCBs LFK females: 9683 ± 19,007 ng g(-1) lipids) than from FCE (Σ 6 PCBs FCE males: 5638 ng g(-1) ± 3627 lipids, Σ 6 PCBs FCE females: 1427 ± 908 ng g(-1) lipids). These levels were lower than previously published data from the southeastern USA. The Σ DL-PCBs were the most prevalent pollutants of dioxin and dioxin like compounds (Σ DL-PCBs LFK: 739 ng g(-1) lipids, Σ DL-PCBs FCE: 183 ng g(-1) lipids) since PCDD/F concentrations were low for both locations (mean 0.1 ng g(-1) lipids for LFK and FCE dolphins). The toxicity equivalences of PCDD/Fs and DL-PCBs expressed as TEQ in LFK and FCE dolphins is mainly expressed by DL-PCBs (81% LFK - 65% FCE). T-Hg concentrations in skin were significantly higher in FCE (FCE median 9314 ng g(-1) dw) compared to LFK dolphins (LFK median 2941 ng g(-1) dw). These concentrations are the highest recorded in bottlenose dolphins in the southeastern USA, and may be explained, at least partially, by the biogeochemistry of the Everglades and mangrove sedimentary habitats that create favourable conditions for the retention of mercury and make it available at high concentrations for aquatic predators.

Concepts: Cetacean intelligence, Animal echolocation, Bottlenose dolphin, Common Bottlenose Dolphin, Florida, Everglades, South Florida metropolitan area, Miami Dolphins


We define, map, and analyze geodemographic patterns of socially and medically vulnerable older adults within the tri-county region of South Florida.

Concepts: Biology, Geography, Sociology, Florida, Southern United States, Adult, South Florida metropolitan area


Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer and the 2nd leading cause of cancer-related deaths among women in the U.S. Although routine screening via mammogram has been shown to increase survival through early detection and treatment of breast cancer, only 3 out of 5 women age ≥40 are compliant with annual mammogram within the U.S. and the state of Florida. A breadth of literature exists on racial/ethnic disparities in compliance with mammogram; however, few such studies include data on individual Black subgroups, such as Haitians. This study assessed the association between race/ethnicity and annual mammogram compliance among randomly selected households residing in the largely Haitian community of Little Haiti, Miami-Dade County (MDC), Florida.

Concepts: Cancer, Breast cancer, Florida, Florida Keys, Monroe County, Florida, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida, South Florida metropolitan area


We isolated a strain of Zika virus, MB16-23, from Aedes aegypti mosquitoes collected in Miami Beach, Florida, USA, on September 2, 2016. Phylogenetic analysis suggests that MB16-23 most likely originated from the Caribbean region.

Concepts: Aedes aegypti, Aedes, Florida, Caribbean, Florida Keys, Miami, Miami-Dade County, Florida, South Florida metropolitan area


Coastal plant communities are being transformed or lost because of sea level rise (SLR) and land-use change. In conjunction with SLR, the Florida Everglades ecosystem has undergone large-scale drainage and restoration, altering coastal vegetation throughout south Florida. To understand how coastal plant communities are changing over time, accurate mapping techniques are needed that can define plant communities at a fine-enough resolution to detect fine-scale changes. We explored using bi-seasonal versus single-season WorldView-2 satellite data to map three mangrove and four adjacent plant communities, including the buttonwood/glycophyte community that harbors the federally-endangered plantChromolaena frustrata. Bi-seasonal data were more effective than single-season to differentiate all communities of interest. Bi-seasonal data combined with Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) elevation data were used to map coastal plant communities of a coastal stretch within Everglades National Park (ENP). Overall map accuracy was 86%. Black and red mangroves were the dominant communities and covered 50% of the study site. All the remaining communities had ≤10% cover, including the buttonwood/glycophyte community. ENP harbors 21 rare coastal species threatened by SLR. The spatially explicit, quantitative data provided by our map provides a fine-scale baseline for monitoring future change in these species' habitats. Our results also offer a method to monitor vegetation change in other threatened habitats.

Concepts: Florida, Everglades, Mangrove, Everglades National Park, South Florida metropolitan area


The Everglades of south Florida, although degraded, imparts vital ecosystem benefits, including contributions to high quality drinking water supplies and habitat for a number of threatened and endangered species. Restoration of the Everglades can improve the provision of these benefits but also may impose tradeoffs with competing societal demands. This study focuses on understanding public preferences for Everglades restoration and estimating the willingness to pay (WTP) values for restored ecosystem services (ES) through the implementation of a discrete choice experiment (DCE). We collected data from 2302 respondents from the general public from an online survey designed to elicit WTP values for selected ecological and social attributes associated with Everglades restoration scenarios. We compare the findings to results from earlier studies (Milon et al., 1999; Milon and Scrogin, 2005), which also estimated WTP values among Floridians for Everglades restoration. For some attributes, WTP for Everglades restoration appears to have slightly increased while for others WTP appears to have decreased. We estimated statewide aggregate WTP values for components of species population restoration up to $2B over 10 years. Several factors impeded a direct comparison of the current and historical WTP values, including the time elapsed, different samples, and sampling methods-which may have implications on long term efforts to integrate certain social science analyses into water resources management.

Concepts: Biodiversity, Water, Sociology, Water resources, Ecological economics, Water supply, Everglades, South Florida metropolitan area


We evaluated the extent to which providing training and technical assistance to early childcare centre (ECC) directors, faculty and staff in the implementation of evidence-based nutrition strategies improved the nutrition contexts, policies and practices of ECC serving racially and ethnically diverse, low-income children in Broward County, Florida, USA. The nutrition strategies targeted snack and beverage policies and practices, consistent with Caring for Our Children National Standards.

Concepts: Race, Florida, South Florida metropolitan area, Broward County, Florida