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projects > compilation of alligator data sets in south florida for restoration needs

Compilation of Alligator Data Sets in South Florida for Restoration Needs

photo of an alligator in water
Project Investigators: Kenneth G. Rice, Frank J. Mazzotti

Project Personnel: Christa Zweig

Project Start Date: 1999 End Date: 2003


Summary

The main objective of this study is to compile, in a format accessible to all researchers, all data collected on alligator numbers, biology, and ecology in south Florida.

Alligators have been identified as a key component of the Everglades ecosystem. Long-term changes in alligator numbers, nesting effort, growth, condition, and survival can be used as indicators of the health of the Everglades marsh system. Due to their sensitivity to hydrologic conditions, an alligator population model is underway in the ATLSS program to evaluate restoration alternatives.

Evaluating long-term trends and developing population models require a large amount of data collected over a number of years and a number of locations. Information on alligator densities, nesting and growth have been collected in south Florida since the 1950s by rangers and researchers in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission personnel, University researchers, and private consultants. Many of the most critical data sets (those having the largest amount of data or those from particular areas or years) are not accessible for use in evaluating restoration alternatives or developing models. The data are not available in a centralized, easily accessible, well documented database. Further, the size and scope of these data sets are not fully known. Certainly, thousands of individual records need to be evaluated, compiled, and entered into an appropriate database.

It is critical that these data sets are accessible to establish restoration targets for alligator populations, develop models, and design short and long-term monitoring tools for evaluating restoration success.

The main objective of the study is to compile, in a format accessible to all researchers, all data collected on alligator numbers, biology, and ecology in south Florida. The data are required to set restoration success criteria, provide input to models being developed to evaluate effects of Everglades restoration on alligators, and to develop short and long-term monitoring protocols for assessing the success of Restoration efforts.

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