Sex Ratios of Naturally-incubated Alligator Hatchlings: Field Techniques and Initial Results

In American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis), sex determination is dependent upon incubation temperature of the egg prior to hatching. Information about hatchling alligator sex ratios is equivocal, however. Moreover, numerous surveys of juveniles and adults show a male-biased ratio, although a female-biased ratio has been reported for hatchlings from Louisiana. We outline a technique for estimating sex ratios in naturally-incubated alligator nests, and present the initial results from impoundment habitats in South Carolina. In 1994, we located 33 nests and sexed and released 778 hatchlings from 25 nests. The observed sex ratio was 1M:3.8F. Hatchling sex ratios are likely to vary temporally and spatially; therefore, long-term studies in representative habitats are required.

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