THE DISTRIBUTION OF THE AMERICAN ALLIGATOR IN A RIVERINE HABITAT IN TEXAS
Most research on the American alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) has focused on populations residing in lentic and wetland habitats while little is known about alligator distributions within river ecosystems. We conducted a population survey of alligators along a 96-mile section of the lower Neches River within the Big Thicket National Preserve in southeast Texas. Nighttime eyeshine surveys of alligators recorded 65 individuals in the Fall 2017, 63 in Spring 2018, and 110 in the summer 2018. Most alligators in the river were subadults or juveniles. All three surveys had similar distributions, with alligators congregating in the northern and southern ends of the park, near large lakes or wetlands. There were very few alligators in the remaining river. Alligator density was compared to water chemistry, weather, land use, riparian geomorphology, season, and moon phase using a general linear model. Proximity to ideal habitat, open water with large riparian wetlands, was the main driver of alligator distributions within the river. This, coupled with the small size of river alligators, indicate that alligators residing in the river may have been forced out of better habitat by larger adults.
Matthew Pyne (Primary Presenter/Author), Lamar University, firstname.lastname@example.org;
Jami Brown (Co-Presenter/Co-Author), Lamar University, email@example.com;