New Mexico Supercomputing Challenge

Predator Mayhem

Team: 35

School: Down to Earth School

Area of Science: Ecology


Interim:
What are the possible outcomes of exotic animals being released into non-native areas and breeding with a local animal? What effects it would have on the ecosystem? We are team 35 and our project is titled Predator Mayhem. We based our project on the python problem in Florida. Two breeds of nonnative snakes, the Rock Python and the Burmese Python have been released into the ecosystem by owners who cannot handle taking care of them anymore. It is possible that it may breed with each other producing a sort of “Super Predator”. It could very likely come into towns and cities, and endanger not only local wildlife but citizens as well. Exotic animals can be a danger to local ecosystems as well as people by causing injury or death.
We plan on using Netlogo for our model. There will be three main agents in our model: the native predator, the exotic predator, and the “Super Breed” (a hybrid of the two.) There will also be agents representing organisms in the native ecosystem. The variables belonging to the agents will be the characteristics of the native species and the exotic species. Speed, strength, size, and aggressiveness are some of the characteristics that we will be working on. We are using sliders to change the variables in order to adjust these to run different scenarios.
We have completed research on the Florida exotic animal problem. We researched both of the snakes, the Burmese python and the Rock python. We also researched other exotic animal catastrophes and which states have the most nonnative animals in them. We are researching different types of food webs. We watched a movie called The Elephant in the Living Room. It was about a police man, Tim Harrison who also went around and caught loose exotic animals. It took place in Ohio where the police are also paramedics and firemen. It is one of the only states where it’s like that. He has a project called Outreach for Animals which helps exotic animals that have been released by incapable owners find new and secure homes. We have started our model and are continuing to research in order to develop predators’ variables.
We want to show that owning exotic species can be problematic because it can be a danger to the animals themselves, the owners, and possibly the local ecosystem. We also hope that our model will be easy and convenient for students and scientists to use, in order to model the release of exotic animals and the consequences.


References
Richmond, Elliot. 2002. Exotic Species. 12/6/2012. http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/Exotic_Species.aspx

Delach, Aimee. Invasive Species of New Mexico 10/6/1012. http://www.defenders.org/sites/default/files/publications/new_mexico.pdf
NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. Copyright © 2012. Nuisance & Invasive Species 9/4/2012. http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/265.html.

Harrison, Tim. Outreach for Animals. Copyright © 2012. 11/27/012. http://www.outreachforanimals.org/wp/

http://www.nwf.org/Wildlife/Threats-to-Wildlife/Invasiveaspx Species. 1996-2012 National Wildlife Federation 12/12/12

Top 10 Bad Pets, (2009). Retrieved October 15. From http://exoticpets.about.com/od/choosinganexoticpet/tp/TopTenAnimalsThatShouldNotBeKeptAsPets.htm

Michael L. Webber, April 8 2010, Elephant In The Living Room, USA, Millennium Entertainment

Gade, Melanie, Puckett, Catherine. February 6, 2012. The Big Squeeze: Pythons and Mammals in Everglades National Park. 11/14/2012. http://www.usgs.gov/blogs/features/usgs_top_story/the-big-squeeze-pythons-and-mammals-in-everglades-national-park/.


Team Members:

  Ruby Zeuner
  Aidan Link
  Gayla Lacy
  Laurel Edwards
  Samantha Lopez

Sponsoring Teacher: Maia Chaney

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