Research Publications

Featured Principal Investigator: Dr. Christina Romagosa

Dr. Christina Romagosa is a research fellow with the Center for Environmental Studies at the Urban-Rural Interface, with an additional affiliation with the Department of Biological Sciences. Her research focus is on biological invasions and the human contribution through trade and land-use change to this process; and subsequent impacts on wildlife communities and human populations. Nonindigenous species, such as the Burmese python, are brought to the US through the live animal trade. The live animal trade is among the most important pathways for the global introduction of nonindigenous vertebrates. Romagosa has assembled and managed a dataset of US Fish and Wildlife importation and exportation records that span a 30 year time period and consist of more than 4000 vertebrate species from approximately 400 families. These data arelinked to current lists of globally threatened species and species introduced outside of their native ranges, as well as to economic and life history information. Her compilation of these data have been utilized by government agencies (US Geological Survey, National Park service, US Army Corps of Engineers), NGOs (Defenders of Wildlife, The Nature Conservancy), in congressional testimonies, as well as for academic research.

Currently, Romagosa is participating in the multi-agency efforts to manage the Burmese Python and North African Python in southern Florida. She and research associate, Melissa Miller (Department of Biological Sciences), participated in an early detection/rapid response effort in Miami-Dade County to locate and capture North African Pythons, which are found on the cusp of a suburban area. This effort was organized by the Exotic Animal Strike Team of the Everglades Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area ( In response to that effort, Romagosa and Miller are collaborating with EcoDogs ( partners, Todd Steury (School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences), Craig Angle and Rob Gillette (Animal Health and Performance Program). In a National Park Service-funded pilot project, EcoDogs has trained dogs to detect pythons to aid with the management efforts for both python species. This pilot project has benefited from additional field aid from USGS, USDA, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, and University of Florida. Use of the dogs has provided information as to areas where pythons have been present recently, as well as alerting the snake handlers to the presence of pythons that have been subsequently captured. Prior to the EcoDogs project, the majority of pythons are collected by foot or road surveys along levee and canal roads by agency employees and private citizens. This method has been productive, but is limited only to the snakes that are clearly visible by humans. A study where the success rate of each method can be directly compared is necessary in order to validly assess the benefits and cost effectiveness of using dogs for python detection. Romagosa and collaborators will use known (radio-tagged) snakes to quantify and compare the success rate among these python collection methods. Additionally, detailed data on the environmental factors that affect the probability of detection by both dogs and humans will be collected. The results of this study have direct management application for identifying effective tools for the capture and removal of nonindigenous species in Florida.

Selected publications:

Dorcas, M. E., J. D. Willson, R. N. Reed, R. W. Snow, M. R. Rochford, M. A. Miller, W. E. Mehsaka, Jr., P. T. Andreadis, F. J. Mazzotti, C. M. Romagosa, K. M. Hart. 2012. Severe Mammal Declines Coincide with Proliferation of Invasive Burmese Pythons in Everglades National Park. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 109:2418-2422.

Springborn, M., C. M. Romagosa, and R. P. Keller. 2011. The value of non-indigenous species risk assessment in international trade.  Ecological Economics 70: 2145-2153.

Tingley, R, C. M. Romagosa, F. Kraus, D. Bickford, B. L. Phillips, and R. Shine. 2010. The frog filter: amphibian introduction bias driven by taxonomy, body size, and biogeography. Global Ecology and Biogeography 19:496-503.

Romagosa, C.M., C. Guyer, and M.C. Wooten. 2009. Contribution of the live vertebrate trade toward taxonomic homogenization. Conservation Biology 23: 1001-1007.

Romagosa, C.M. (contributing author). Defenders of Wildlife. 2007. Broken screens - the regulation of live animal imports in the United States. Report. Defenders of Wildlife, Washington, D.C.