Wildlife management and conservation frequently rely on understanding mechanisms that influence distribution and abundance of animals. I quantified space use for a population of inland riverine adult male alligators in Mississippi. Results indicated habitat selection is a scale-dependent process and aquatic vegetation, water depth, and water temperature may be important factors influencing alligator foraging and thermoregulation. Apparent habitat suitability and low alligator density did not manifest in an observed body size-based dominance hierarchy. I also analyzed long-term Mississippi alligator spotlight survey data for trends and effects of environmental covariates on counts. Model results indicated alligator counts have increased over time. This response likely reflects benefits accrued from decades of protection and wetland conservation. Distance sampling does not appear to be a feasible monitoring technique for riverine alligator populations. Nevertheless, it is important that survey protocols and monitoring programs account for imperfect detection and model important covariates.
|Advisor:||Vilella, Francisco J.|
|Commitee:||Belant, Jerrold L., Leopold, Bruce D.|
|School:||Mississippi State University|
|Department:||Wildlife and Fisheries|
|School Location:||United States -- Mississippi|
|Source:||MAI 55/01M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Subjects:||Wildlife Conservation, Ecology, Behavioral Sciences|
|Keywords:||American alligator, Dominance, Mississippi, Resource selection, Spotlight surveys, Telemetry|
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