Alligator Nesting Ecology in Two Habitats in Southern Georgia

Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis) nest characteristics from 2 different habitats in southern Georgia were compared. Nest and egg measurements varied somewhat between Silver Lake, an open freshwater habitat, and Rhetts Island, a brackish marsh habitat. However, except for the distance nests were found from water, none of the differences between study areas were significant. Mean clutch size for the Silver Lake study area was 38.0 while that of Rhetts Island was 40.7. Fertility rate of eggs on Silver Lake was 92.1 %. Of 29 nests containing eggs on the Silver Lake area, 14 (48.3%) were successful, with 55.1% of the eggs in successful nests hatching. Predators destroyed 37.9% of the Silver Lake nests. Fertility rate of eggs on Rhetts Island was 92.7%. Twenty-three (74.2%) of 31 nests containing eggs were successful, with 44.7% of the eggs in successful nests hatching. Six nests (19.4%) were destroyed by predators. Hatching of eggs appeared to begin about 1 week earlier on Silver Lake, but on both areas the peak of hatching occurred during the first week of September.

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