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Aquatic Biology

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AB 18:1-8 (2013)  -  DOI:

Behavior of American alligators monitored by multi-sensor data loggers

Yuuki Y. Watanabe1,*, Eric A. Reyier2, Russell H. Lowers2, Johanna L. Imhoff3,4, Yannis P. Papastamatiou3

1National Institute of Polar Research, Tachikawa, Tokyo 190-8518, Japan
2Kennedy Space Center Ecological Program/InoMedic Health Applications, Kennedy Space Center, Florida 32899, USA
3Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32605, USA
4Present address: Department of Biological Science, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida, 32306, USA

ABSTRACT: Fine-scale behavior of crocodilians has rarely been recorded in the field despite the important ecological roles these reptiles play in wetland systems around the world. In this study, we attached multi-sensor data loggers to free-ranging American alligators Alligator mississippiensis in the northern Banana River Lagoon, Florida, to record their diving and swimming behavior, diel activity patterns, and horizontal movements. The alligators repeatedly showed shallow, inactive dives (mean depth: 0.75 m, duration: 310 s), which may represent sit-and-wait foraging for prey. The alligators also showed periodic, submerged swimming events (mean duration: 59 s, swim speed: 0.31 m s−1, tail-beat frequency: 0.47 Hz). Based on the occurrence of diving and swimming events, and the activity level inferred from acceleration records, the animals tended to be more active during the day than at night, suggesting behavioral thermoregulation. An individual with a global positioning system (GPS) logger attached swam northward along the shore, showing the utility of GPS tracking for this species. This study presents basic information for the natural behavior of crocodilians, an understudied group among aquatic vertebrates.

KEY WORDS: Biologging · Crocodilian · Diving · Swimming · Alligator mississippiensis

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Cite this article as: Watanabe YY, Reyier EA, Lowers RH, Imhoff JL, Papastamatiou YP (2013) Behavior of American alligators monitored by multi-sensor data loggers. Aquat Biol 18:1-8.

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