This study uses the American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) to assess the use of reproductive allometry as a tool to infer crocodilian population marginality based on conformation to advantageous life-history strategies. It is hypothesized that reproductive allometry, a morphometric relationship between mother's size and her reproductive output, varies intraspecifically between populations and that this variation reflects population marginality based on size, stress, temporal exploitation, habitat fragmentation, and/or the presence of social hierarchy. This hypothesis is tested using relative comparisons of allometric correlation between a marginal population inundated with saline storm surge from Hurricane Ike in southeastern Texas and a hypothesized unstressed core population in southeastern Louisiana. Heterophil to lymphocyte ratios fail to falsify the hypothesis of a saline stressor. The number of significant morphometric correlations between various parameters, degree of correlation (R2), and slope of correlation between mother and her respective nest and clutch varied greatly between study sites. Reproductive allometry, as a measure of relative population marginality, may provide a cost effective way to prioritize management with local support for crocodilian taxa.
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Vol. 2013 • No. 2