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1 September 2011 Long-Distance Movement by American Alligators in Southwest Louisiana
Valentine A. Lance, Ruth M. Elsey, Phillip L. Trosclair, Leisa A. Nunez
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As part of an ongoing study on growth and sexual maturation of Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) on Rockefeller Wildlife Refuge, LA, 3601 specimens, ranging in total length from 28 to 361 cm, were captured from June 2000 through August 2004. Additionally, 70 alligators were collected opportunistically as part of a teaching exercise in August 2005, and 248 more were collected in 2006 (and one in January 2007) as part of a study evaluating the effects of Hurricane Rita on alligators. Representative samples from size classes greater than 60 cm were collected in most months of the year between 2000 and 2004. Each animal was tagged, measured, sexed, and released immediately at the site of capture. A large number of these marked alligators were recaptured outside the refuge boundaries during annual alligator hunts in September. Of the 286 recaptured alligators, 214 were males, 68 were females, and four were of undetermined sex. From each recaptured alligator, total body length and date of recapture were recorded, and minimum distance from initial capture site estimated. From these preliminary data, we calculated the time interval between captures, and plotted minimum distance moved. The number of days between first capture and recapture ranged from 29 to 3336 days (9.1 years). Distance moved from initial capture site to final capture site ranged from 0.3 to 90.2 km. Eleven alligators moved between 30.0 and 39.9 km, and eight moved ≥40 km. Six of these moved between 40.0 and 49.9 km, and the others moved 87.4 and 90.2 km. These results greatly extend previous estimates of long-distance movement by alligators and demonstrate that both sub-adult and sexually mature animals move considerable distances. These data also showed that smaller alligators moved greater distances than larger alligators (P = 0.0002), and that the longer the time between captures, the greater the distance moved (P < 0.0001).

Valentine A. Lance, Ruth M. Elsey, Phillip L. Trosclair, and Leisa A. Nunez "Long-Distance Movement by American Alligators in Southwest Louisiana," Southeastern Naturalist 10(3), 389-398, (1 September 2011).
Published: 1 September 2011
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