A recent study from scientists with the United States Geological Survey shows that Alligator populations in parts of the Everglades struggle during dry years. When water levels fall, it becomes increasingly difficult for them to move around and hunt, and may interfere with other critical behaviors like mating and nesting (and even lead to fighting and cannibalism as they compete for scarce resources).
The authors analyzed ten years of night spotlight counts of Alligators in the marshes and canals of Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge and found declines in population proportional to the severity of drying events. Alligators are mostly a success story for South Florida, with populations continuing to recover, but stabilizing water flow is an important factor in successfully restoring the health and ecological function of the Everglades and protecting the species that rely on it.
Field School loves Alligators and the Everglades, so if you want to learn more you can read our posts about Everglades seasons or historical and cultural representations of Alligators. You can also read the paper itself, the news release from USGS here, or dive in and learn about the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan here.
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