Factors Affecting the Nesting Success of the American Crocodile, Crocodylus Acutus, in Florida Bay
Approximately two-thirds of the nests of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in Horida occur in Everglades National Park along sandy shorelines and marl creek banks, in northeastern Horida Bay. Seventy-four percent of 104 crocodile nests examined between 1970 and 1982 produced at least one hatchling. Fifty-eight percent of eggs in such successful nests hatched, while 43% of all eggs laid produced hatchlings. Egg mortality was caused by predation (13% of 104 nests), and embryonic mortality (13% of 104 nests), resulting from flooding and desiccation. Nest temperatures apparently did not kill developing embryos, but deformed hatchlings were observed from hot (>36.5°C) nests. Disturbance to nesting females may result in abandonment of nests during incubation and relocation of nesting effort in subsequent years. The timing of nesting seems to be rigidly scheduled, with the developmental period bracketed by desiccating and flooding conditions, and periods of low and high temperatures. The success of this strategy is shown by the relatively low rate of nest failure in most years.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 1989-01-01
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