Biological Invasions

, Volume 10, Issue 7, pp 969–976 | Cite as

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

  • Garth Herring
  • Dale E. Gawlik
Original Paper


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.


Everglades Florida Introduced species Invasive species Sacred ibis Threskiornis aethiopicus Wading bird conservation 



Funding for research that led to these observations was provided by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. We appreciate the support and cooperation of the Arthur R. Marshall Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and Everglades National Park staff. We acknowledge our fellow researchers that assisted in collecting information on sacred ibis: C. Snow, E. M. Call, and M. I. Cook. We thank our field research crews and those graduate students in the Gawlik Lab that were associated with research that lead to Sacred ibis observations: T. Anderson, T. Beck, J. Beerens, B. Botson, H. Herring, N. Hill, A. Horton, R. Imdieke, M. Johnston, S. Lantz, and J. Naggy. H. K. Herring and two anonymous reviewers provided valuable comments on previous drafts of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesFlorida Atlantic UniversityBoca RatonUSA

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