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Reproductive Ecology of the Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis) and Implications for Conservation

John Thorbjarnarson, Xiaoming Wang and Lijun He
Journal of Herpetology
Vol. 35, No. 4 (Dec., 2001), pp. 553-558
DOI: 10.2307/1565892
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1565892
Page Count: 6
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Reproductive Ecology of the Chinese Alligator (Alligator sinensis) and Implications for Conservation
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Abstract

The Chinese alligator is one of the world's most critically endangered reptiles. Although there is a relatively large captive population, in the wild small groups of alligators are limited to a few small ponds in an agricultural landscape in southeastern Anhui Province. As part of an effort to develop plans for the conservation of Chinese alligators in the wild, we investigated aspects of the reproductive ecology of wild alligators during a survey of the last remaining groups. We also compiled published and unpublished information on the reproduction of alligators in captivity and in the wild. Nesting was only reported from four sites in 1999, and we describe two of these areas. Because of the intense human use of the landscape, alligators seek small patches of relatively undisturbed vegetation for nesting, and these fall into two main categories: vegetated hillsides, usually covered with pine trees, and small islands in agricultural ponds. Our observations of one nest on a pine hillside suggest that pine needles may make a poor nest substrate leading to lethally low temperatures for developing embryos. The selection of sites for the reintroduction of alligators should take the nature of potential nesting habitat into consideration.

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