Potential for successful population establishment of the nonindigenous sacred ibis in the Florida Everglades

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The nonindigenous sacred ibis (Threskiornis aethiopicus) was first discovered breeding in the Florida Everglades in 2005 in the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. Prior to this, sacred ibises were seen periodically throughout South Florida since the mid 1990s, with occasional confirmed breeding occurrences in Miami-Dade and Palm Beach counties. We used a logistic regression model developed by Allen (Biol Invasions 8:491–500, 2006) to predict the probability of successful establishment of sacred ibis in the Florida Everglades ecosystem. Empirical data collected from several sacred ibis nests and chicks were used to validate those findings. The probability of successful establishment was estimated to be 73%. The physiological condition of nestlings suggested that this species was able to fledge chicks in good condition, thus adding to the potential to increase their breeding population. Exponential population growth rates and expanding distribution of the nonindigenous sacred ibis in France demonstrate this species' potential for becoming invasive in Florida. We suggest that the most prudent and effective management strategy is eradication of the few pioneering individuals that are nesting in the Everglades as well as the urban source population.

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