Leopold, Bruce D.
Belant, Jerrold L.
Date of Degree
Graduate Thesis - Open Access
Master of Science
College of Forest Resources
Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture
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.
Strickland, Bradley Austin, "Spatial Ecology and Population Estimation of the American Alligator (Alligator Mississippiensis) in Inland Systems of Mississippi" (2015). Theses and Dissertations MSU. 4011.