Possible decline of an American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) population on Turneffe Atoll Belize

Rainwater, Thomas R. and Platt, Steven G. (2009) Possible decline of an American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) population on Turneffe Atoll Belize. [Other peer-reviewed publication]

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    Abstract

    Surveys of the American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in Turneffe Atoll, Belize over the last decade have suggested that populations remain stable but are increasingly threatened by habitat loss, particularly human development of critical nesting beaches. In May, June and July 208 we used a combination of spotlight surveys and nest counts to evaluate the current status of C. acutus populations in Turneffe Atoll. A total of 23 C. acutus was observed along 46.6 Km of survey route (0.49 crocodiles/Km) during late June-early July, yielding an overall 2008 encounter rate of 0.34 crocodiles/Km. This encounter rate was significantly lower than that reported for surveys conducted in 2002. Two recently hatched nests, both on the same beach, were found during nest counts; no nests were found on other beaches known to have routinely yielded nests in the past. The number of nests found in this study is 4 to 10-fold lower than those reported from 1994 to 2004, suggesting a reduction in breeding females in the Turneffe Atoll crocodile population. Development of two important nesting beaches on Blackbird Cay since 2004 has likely rendered these habitats unsuitable for future nesting. The combination of low crocodile encounter rates, reduced nesting activity and human alterations of known nesting beaches observed in this study suggests a possible decline in the C. acutus population in Turneffe Atoll. Continued population assessments will be essential in monitoring the status of C. acutus in Turneffe Atoll, and immediate management and conservation efforts should be made to protect beaches on Blackbird, Calabash, and Northern Cays to provide critical nesting habitat for crocodiles.

    Item Type: Other peer-reviewed publication
    Related URLs:
      Publisher: Hepetological bulletin
      Subjects: (A) Biodiversity > (AI) Reptiles > (AIB) Marine
      (H) Protected Areas > (HD) Marine Reserve
      Publication Sources: (3) Other Source > (3B) NGOs
      Date Deposited: 31 Jul 2014 11:10
      Last Modified: 31 Jul 2014 11:10
      URI: http://eprints.uberibz.org/id/eprint/1467

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