Document Type

Thesis

Degree

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor's Name

George H. Dalrymple

First Advisor's Committee Title

Committee Chair

Second Advisor's Name

J. Whitfield Gibbons

Third Advisor's Name

Martin Tracey

Fourth Advisor's Name

Frank J. Mazzotti

Keywords

American alligator, Reptiles, South Carolina, Savannah River Region

Date of Defense

7-6-1989

Abstract

Par Pond is a man-made 1120 ha cooling reservoir located on the Savannah River Site near Aiken, South Carolina. From 1972-1978 a detailed study on the status of the alligator in Par Pond was conducted by Tom Murphy (unpub. MS thesis Univ. of GA, 1977). Murphy estimated that approximately 110 alligators inhabited Par Pond with an adult (> 1.8 m) to juvenile (< 1.8 m) ratio of (1.8:1), an overall sex ratio of 3.2:1, and an average of only 2.3 nests/yr. The purpose of this study (1986-1989) was to determine the current population size and structure, determine how the population has changed in the last 15 years and to examine growth and survival of juvenile alligators.

Data were collected by monthly night-time eyeshine counts aerial surveys, capturing animals, and locating and following the fate of nests. There was a strong positive correlation between water temperature and the number of alligators observed during eyeshine counts. Both eyeshine counts and aerial surveys were highest in spring and varied seasonally.

A total of 184 different non-hatchling and 157 hatchling alligators were captured between May 1986 and November 1988. Population estimates and size distributions based on capture data indicate that over the last 15 years the population has increased from approximately 110 to 200 alligators, and the size distribution has shifted from one dominated by large adults to one that has a higher proportion of juveniles. The current sex ratio (2.6:1) is not significantly different from that reported by Murphy (1977, 3.2:1). However, the average number of nests/yr has increased from 2.3 to 4.0.

Data on juvenile growth and survival show that the growth rate of hatchlings (32.9 cm/yr total length) is greater than that of animals age 1-3 (21.6 cm/yr total length) and survival of all ages is variable between years and between clutches.

Results from this study indicate that from 1972-988 the population has increased ac an average exponential rate of 6 % per year. If conditions in Par Pond do not change, the population size should continue to increase.

Identifier

FI14051824

Included in

Biology Commons

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