|SREL Reprint #0821|
Applied Ecological Studies of the American Alligator at
the Savannah River Ecology Laboratory: An
Overview of Program Goals and Design
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.