SREL Reprint #0821




Applied Ecological Studies of the American Alligator at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory:  An Overview of Program Goals and Design

I. Lehr Brisbin, Jr.



The alligator research program at the University of Georgia’s Savannah River Ecology Laboratory operates as an integral component of the laboratory’s general research program in the area of thermal ecology.  As such, the program has been primarily directed toward assessment and prediction of impacts resulting from the introduction of heated effluents from operating nuclear reactors into natural aquatic ecosystems of the southeastern United States.  Early studies concentrated on an assessment of the movement, behavior, and population dynamics of the alligator population inhabiting Par Pond, an 1120 ha reactor cooling reservoir located at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Plant near Aiken, South Carolina.  Later studies utilized multichannel radiotelemetric techniques and dealt with body temperature profiles and thermoregulatory behavior of free-ranging alligators in the Par Pond reservoir.  In 1976, adult alligators experienced increased mortality levels following routine trapping and handling operations.  Subsequent studies suggested that increased levels of the bacterium Aeromonas hydrophila in the reservoir were at least partly responsible for these stress-related deaths.  However, the present lack of control studies in unheated reservoirs makes it difficult to differentiate the ecological effects of water temperature elevations per se from the general ecological response of the resident alligator population to the possible marginal reservoir habitat.


SREL Reprint #0821

Brisbin, I.L., Jr. 1982. Applied ecological studies of the American alligator at the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: an overview of program goals and design. p. 376-388. In 5th Working Meeting of the Crocodile Specialist Group of the Species Survival Commission of the International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources, IUCNNR. Florida State Museum, Gainesville, FL.

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