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Compilation of Alligator Data Sets in South Florida for Restoration Needs

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Metadata:


Identification_Information:
Citation:
Citation_Information:
Originator:
Kenneth G. Rice

Frank J. Mazzotti

Publication_Date: 2004
Title:
Compilation of Alligator Data Sets in South Florida for Restoration Needs
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: model
Online_Linkage: <https://sofia.usgs.gov/projects/index.php?project_url=comp_gator>
Description:
Abstract:
The main objective of the study was to compile, in a format accessible to all researchers, all data collected on alligator numbers, biology, and ecology in south Florida. The data are required to set restoration success criteria, provide input to models being developed to evaluate effects of Everglades restoration on alligators, and to develop short and long-term monitoring protocols for assessing the success of Restoration efforts.

This included: 1. Compile a list of studies and data sets relating to alligators in south Florida. 2. Determine the accessibility of data sets. Rank the data sets as to their importance and need for compilation (rankings will be made in cooperation with BRD modeling staff and crocodilian researchers and mangers). 3. Obtain and compile at least the 3 highest ranking data sets. 4. Develop a standardized format for collecting and managing data on alligators. 5. Develop a project plan for obtaining the remaining data sets and producing a digital library of historic reports. 6. Use the historical data assembled above to develop a method and to compare body condition among alligator populations in south Florida both spatially and temporally.

Purpose:
Alligators have been identified as a key component of the Everglades ecosystem. Long-term changes in alligator numbers, nesting effort, growth, condition, and survival can be used as indicators of the health of the Everglades marsh system. Due to their sensitivity to hydrologic conditions, an alligator population model is underway in the ATLSS program to evaluate restoration alternatives.

Evaluating long-term trends and developing population models require a large amount of data collected over a number of years and a number of locations. Information on alligator densities, nesting and growth have been collected in south Florida since the 1950s by rangers and researchers in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission personnel, University researchers, and private consultants. Many of the most critical data sets (those having the largest amount of data or those from particular areas or years) are not accessible for use in evaluating restoration alternatives or developing models. The data are not available in a centralized, easily accessible, well documented database. Further, the size and scope of these data sets are not fully known. Certainly, thousands of individual records need to be evaluated, compiled, and entered into an appropriate database.

It is critical that these data sets are accessible to establish restoration targets for alligator populations, develop models, and design short and long-term monitoring tools for evaluating restoration success.

Time_Period_of_Content:
Time_Period_Information:
Range_of_Dates/Times:
Beginning_Date: 1965
Ending_Date: 2003
Currentness_Reference: ground condition
Status:
Progress: Complete
Maintenance_and_Update_Frequency: None planned
Spatial_Domain:
Bounding_Coordinates:
West_Bounding_Coordinate: -81.1
East_Bounding_Coordinate: -80.1
North_Bounding_Coordinate: 27.75
South_Bounding_Coordinate: 25.25
Keywords:
Theme:
Theme_Keyword_Thesaurus: none
Theme_Keyword: model
Theme_Keyword: alligators
Theme_Keyword: biology
Theme_Keyword: ecology
Theme:
Theme_Keyword_Thesaurus: ISO 19115 Topic Category
Theme_Keyword: biota
Theme_Keyword: environment
Theme_Keyword: 002
Theme_Keyword: 007
Place:
Place_Keyword_Thesaurus:
Department of Commerce, 1995, Countries, Dependencies, Areas of Special Sovereignty, and Their Principal Administrative Divisions, Federal Information Processing Standard (FIPS) 10-4, Washington, DC, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Place_Keyword: United States
Place_Keyword: US
Place:
Place_Keyword_Thesaurus:
U.S. Department of Commerce, 1987, Codes for the identification of the States, the District of Columbia and the outlying areas of the United States, and associated areas (Federal Information Processing Standard 5-2): Washington, DC, NIST
Place_Keyword: Florida
Place_Keyword: FL
Place:
Place_Keyword_Thesaurus:
Department of Commerce, 1990, Counties and Equivalent Entities of the United States, Its Possessions, and Associated Areas, FIPS 6-3, Washington, DC, National Institute of Standards and Technology
Place_Keyword: Palm Beach County
Place_Keyword: Hendry County
Place_Keyword: Collier County
Place_Keyword: Broward County
Place_Keyword: Miami-Dade County
Place:
Place_Keyword_Thesaurus: USGS Geographic Names Information System
Place_Keyword: Everglades National Park
Place_Keyword: Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge
Place_Keyword: Big Cypress National Preserve
Place_Keyword: Shark River Slough
Place:
Place_Keyword_Thesaurus: none
Place_Keyword: Water Conservation Area 2A
Place_Keyword: WCA2A
Place_Keyword: Water Conservation Area 3A
Place_Keyword: WCA3A
Place_Keyword: ENP
Place_Keyword: BCNP
Place_Keyword: Ridge and Slough
Place_Keyword: Greater Lake Okeechobee
Place_Keyword: Central Everglades
Place_Keyword: SW Big Cypress
Place_Keyword: marl prairie/rocky glades
Access_Constraints: none
Use_Constraints: none
Point_of_Contact:
Contact_Information:
Contact_Person_Primary:
Contact_Person: Kenneth G. Rice
Contact_Organization: U.S. Geological Survey
Contact_Address:
Address_Type: mailing address
Address: 7920 NW 71st Street
City: Gainesville
State_or_Province: FL
Postal_Code: 32653
Country: USA
Contact_Voice_Telephone: 352 264-3544
Contact_Facsimile_Telephone: 352 378-4956
Contact_Electronic_Mail_Address: krice@usgs.gov
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator:
Mazzotti, Frank J.

Brandt, Laura A.

Publication_Date: 1994
Title:
Ecology of the American alligator in a seasonally fluctuating environment
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: book chapter
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: Delray Beach, FL
Publisher: St. Lucie Press
Other_Citation_Details:
in Everglades: the ecosystem and its restoration

Steven M. Davis and John C. Ogden, editors

Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator:
Anderson, R. O.

Gutreuter, S. J.

Publication_Date: 1983
Title: Length, weight, and associated structural indices
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: book chapter
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: Bethesda, MD
Publisher: Amercian Fisheries Society
Other_Citation_Details:
in Fisheries techniques, L. A. Nielsen and D. L. Johnson, editors
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator: Dalrymple, G. H.
Publication_Date: 1996
Title:
Growth of American Alligators in the Shark River Valley region of Everglades National Park
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: report
Series_Information:
Series_Name: Copeia
Issue_Identification: V. 1, p. 212-216
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: Lawrence, KS
Publisher: American Society of Ichthyologists and Herpetologists
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator: Gablehouse, D. W.
Publication_Date: 198407
Title: A length-categorization system to assess fish stocks
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: report
Series_Information:
Series_Name: North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Issue_Identification: v. 4, n. 3, p. 273-285
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: Bethesda, MD
Publisher: American Fisheries Society
Other_Citation_Details:
accessed as of 4/14/2010

The full article is available via journal subscription or single article purchase. The abstract may be viewed on the American Fisheries Society website

Online_Linkage:
<http://afsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8659%281984%294%3C273%3AALSTAF%3E2.0.CO%3B2>
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator:
Jacobsen, T.

Kushlan, J. A.

Publication_Date: 1984
Title: Growth dynamics in the American alligator
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: report
Series_Information:
Series_Name: Journal of Zoology
Issue_Identification: v. 219, .n. 2, p. 309-328
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: London, England
Publisher: Zoological Society of London
Other_Citation_Details:
accessed as of 4/14/2010

The full article is available for single article purchase. The abstract may be viewed on the Wiley InterScience website

Online_Linkage: <http://www3.interscience.wiley.com/journal/122270327/abstract>
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator:
Kushlan, J. A.

Jacobsen, T.

Publication_Date: 1990
Title:
Environmental variability and the reproductive success of Everglades alligators
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: report
Series_Information:
Series_Name: Journal of Herpetology
Issue_Identification: v. 24, .n. 2, p. 176-184
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: online
Publisher: Society for the Study of Amphibians and Reptiles
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator:
Murphy, B. R.

Brown, M. L.; Springer. T. A.

Publication_Date: 199002
Title:
Evaluation of the relative weight (Wr) index, with new applications to walleye
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: report
Series_Information:
Series_Name: North American Journal of Fisheries Management
Issue_Identification: v. 10, n. 1, p. 85-97
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: Bethesda, MD
Publisher: American Fisheries Society
Other_Citation_Details:
accessed as of 4/14/2010

The full article is available via journal subscription or single article purchase. The abstract may be viewed on the American Fisheries Society website

Online_Linkage:
<http://afsjournals.org/doi/abs/10.1577/1548-8675%281990%29010%3C0085%3AEOTRWW%3E2.3.CO%3B2>
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator: Carlander, K. D.
Publication_Date: 1977
Title: Handbook of freshwater fish biology, volume 2
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: book
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: Ames, IA
Publisher: University of Iowa Press
Cross_Reference:
Citation_Information:
Originator:
Wege, J. R.

Anderson, R. O.

Publication_Date: 1978
Title:
Relative weight (Wr): a new index of condition for largemouth bass
Geospatial_Data_Presentation_Form: report
Series_Information:
Series_Name: Special Publication
Issue_Identification: 5
Publication_Information:
Publication_Place: Bethesda, MD
Publisher: American Society of Fisheries
Other_Citation_Details:
in New approaches to the management of small impoundments, G. D. Novinger and J. G. Dillard, eds.

Data_Quality_Information:
Logical_Consistency_Report:
Fisheries biologists suggest a solution to cross-population comparisons for the species as a whole by defining standard weight-length relationships from a series of population statistics rather than from individual fish data across a series of populations (Murphy et al., 1990)
Completeness_Report: unknown
Lineage:
Process_Step:
Process_Description:
This study was designated a critical project for restoration of crocodilian populations determined by a meeting of over 40 biologists, managers, and administrators held in Homestead, Florida in December, 1998.

Permits for alligator capture were obtained in 1999 from the following agencies: 1. Loxahatchee National Wildlife Refuge. 2. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission. 3. Everglades National Park. 4. Big Cypress National Preserve.

Process_Date: 1999
Process_Step:
Process_Description:
Interviews, questionnaires, and discussions with crocodilian biologists and managers in South Florida have been used to identify, locate, and assess availability of historical data sets.

We have conducted alligator capture and measurements for current alligator condition throughout the Everglades Ecosystem. Animals have been captured from Loxahatchee NWR, WCA 2A, WCA 2B, WCA 3A North, WCA 3A South, Everglades National Park (Shark Slough and estuarine areas), and Big Cypress National Preserve.

We have developed an initial condition model for comparison of current alligator condition to historical information in the collected data sets.

Historical Data Sets. -- A list of historic and current alligator projects and data sets will be compiled by sending a questionnaire to FFWCC, NPS, USFWS, University researchers, and private consultants who are currently or who have conducted research on alligators in south Florida. The questionnaire will ask for the project title, type of data, project dates, project PIs and current addresses, location and form of data (e.g. field notes, computer file etc.), and a list of reports in which the data are used. Each project will be evaluated as to the relevance of the data to restoration success criteria, modeling, and monitoring efforts, the amount of data, and the effort needed to get the data into a usable form. Based on the above information the projects will be ranked in order of importance.

The 3 highest ranking data sets will be obtained and compiled during the first year. This may involve physically retrieving field notes from locations outside of south Florida, entering data from field notes, reading data from old tapes, converting computerized data sets into a form usable by our chosen database housing software (ORACLE, ACCESS), and reviewing data sets with the PIs.

Guidelines for establishing standardized databases for the alligator research projects will be developed. This will include metadata requirements. These guidelines will be distributed to all researchers working on alligators in south Florida so that data currently being collected can be easily combined with historic data sets.

A project plan will be developed for obtaining and compiling the remaining data sets based on the successes and challenges experienced during the first year. In addition, a plan will be developed to collect and make available in digital form historic reports and papers on alligators in south Florida. The present proposal has been developed as a 1 year project. However, the project plan outlined above will design and discuss a more thorough and longer term project.

Condition. -- The definition of a reasonable "condition factor" is not trivial. This is true in part because our informal evaluations are often normative. For example, we proclaim that one animal is in good condition; another, we say, looks terrible. Even when applied to individuals within one population these terms are not objectively informative. In crocodilians we tend to believe that fat is good. Amongst crocodilians it is probably true that fatter females do produce larger clutches in a given year; however we have no strong evidence that their lifetime productivity is higher. Furthermore, even when our condition-assessments have been value-free, they have usually been qualitative rather than quantitative. So long as our definitions of condition remain unquantified, we shall confront serious difficulties when we attempt to compare across populations.

Fisheries biologists routinely face the task of evaluating various populations of a target species. Consequently they have been assiduous in their quest for appropriate measures of condition (Anderson and Gutreuter, 1983; Carlander, 1977; Gabelhouse, 1984; Wege and Anderson, 1978). Clearly this enterprise has two components. The preliminary problem is to define the condition of an individual animal. The more complex objective is to establish a protocol for comparison across populations.

Study areas include sampled sites from each major compartment in the Everglades: ARM Loxahatchee NWR, Water Conservation Area 2, Water Conservation Area 3, Everglades National Park, and Big Cypress National Preserve. Animals were captured by cable nooses from airboats at night. For each animal, we measured total length (TL), snout-vent length (SVL), tailgirth, chestgirth, neckgirth (all in cm), and mass (kg). We also determined the sex of each alligator, and we noted any deformities, particularly the loss of tail tips. Because condition among small alligators appears to be unstable over time, we included only animals with SVL > 50cm.

We must obtain suitable length-mass samples from a reasonable number of separate populations (perhaps at least 5-10; Murphy et al. [1990] examined 16 populations of largemouth bass and 114 populations for walleye). To be of value, these samples should probably measure at least 30-50 crocs (samples for Murphy et al. [1990] ranged from 12 to 5984) and must include animals from a broad spectrum of SVLís. This same technique would be suitable for evaluating populationsí conditions across time rather than space.

Process_Date: 2001
Process_Step:
Process_Description:
Progress includes: (1) Interviews, questionnaires, and discussions with crocodilian biologists and managers in South Florida have been used to identify, locate, and assess availability of historical data sets;

(2) The most important datasets have been identified. Several have been acquired and assimilated into an ACCESS database. Other databases have been identified and are being acquired;

(3) We have evaluated alligator condition throughout the Everglades Ecosystem in response to hydrology. Animals have been captured from Loxahatchee NWR, WCA 2A, WCA 2B, WCA 3A North, WCA 3A South, Everglades National Park (Shark Slough and estuarine areas), and Big Cypress National Preserve.

Process_Date: 2002
Process_Step:
Process_Description:
We will produce a final web-accessible database by 2003 for use by all researchers involved in Everglades restoration and provide the condition analysis tool for use in performance measure development and evaluation.
Process_Date: Unknown
Process_Step:
Process_Description:
The ATLSS American Alligator Production Index (API) Model was developed as a coarse indicator of the yearly production potential (probability of producing nests and offspring successfully) for the American Alligator in South Florida based upon local habitat and hydrologic conditions.

Model Constraints

1. Spatial Constraints. - The spatial resolution for the model is 500 meters by 500 meters. All data (water depth, vegetation type, ground elevation, breeding indices) represent values for a 500x500 meter area.

2. Temporal Constraints. - The temporal resolution for the model is one day for all water data (height and depth) and is static for the vegetation habitat types. The model produces a single yearly value for each spatial cell that takes account of the daily water data affecting the nesting and offspring production during that year.

Model Components consist of:

1. Breeding. - Water levels encountered during the period ranging from May 16 of the current nesting year to April 15 of the previous year are used as an indicator of the probability of breeding occurrence in an area. The probability that nesting will occur correlates positively with the amount of time spent in flooded conditions during this period. This model component is defined to be the proportion of this period for which there was water depth greater than 0.5 feet.

2. Nest Construction. - The mean water depth during the peak of the mating season from April 16 through May 15 is used as an indicator of the probability that mating and nest construction will occur in a given area. Two linear functions are applied to indicate the value of this model component such that the highest probability of nest construction occurs at a mean level of 1.3 feet. Mean water depth values higher or lower than this reduce the probability of nest construction.

3. Nest Flooding. - The probability of a nest being flooding is calculated from a combination of the mean water level during nest construction and the maximum water level during egg incubation. Field observations indicate that the mean water level between June 15 and June 30 will determine the elevation at which a nest will be constructed. A linear function is applied to the difference between the maximum water level during the the egg incubation period (July 1 through September 1) and the mean water level during nest construction to give the probability of nest flooding.

4. Relative Habitat Quality - Available evidence suggests that the type of vegetative cover and elevation within an area greatly influence the probability of nesting. This model uses a static ranking of the dominant vegetation type within a 500 meter spatial cell as a measure of habitat quality.

5. Output - The overall API is calculated as a weighted product of the above described model components. This uses (1 - the probability of nest flooding) in the product and applies highest weight to the nest flooding component, a lower weight to the breeding and nesting components, and the lowest weight to habitat quality factor. All output is produced as maps in the standard ATLSS format, comparing one hydrologic scenario to another and displaying a map of the differences between the two scenarios.

Process_Date: 2004
Process_Contact:
Contact_Information:
Contact_Person_Primary:
Contact_Person: Kenneth G. Rice
Contact_Organization: U.S. Geological Survey
Contact_Address:
Address_Type: mailing address
Address: 7920 NW 71st Street
City: Gainesville
State_or_Province: FL
Postal_Code: 32653
Country: USA
Contact_Voice_Telephone: 352 264-3544
Contact_Facsimile_Telephone: 352 378-4956
Contact_Electronic_Mail_Address: krice@usgs.gov

Distribution_Information:
Distributor:
Contact_Information:
Contact_Person_Primary:
Contact_Person: Kenneth G. Rice
Contact_Organization: U.S. Geological Survey
Contact_Address:
Address_Type: mailing address
Address: 7920 NW 71st Street
City: Gainesville
State_or_Province: FL
Postal_Code: 32653
Country: USA
Contact_Voice_Telephone: 352 264-3544
Contact_Facsimile_Telephone: 352 378-4956
Contact_Electronic_Mail_Address: krice@usgs.gov
Resource_Description: databases
Distribution_Liability: Any data have no implied or explicit guarantees
Standard_Order_Process:
Non-digital_Form: unknown
Fees: none
Ordering_Instructions:
All data will be maintained at the USGS-BRD, Florida Caribbean Science Center, Restoration Ecology Branch, Everglades National Park Field Station in Homestead, Florida and the University of Floridaís Everglades Research and Education Center in Belle Glade, Florida. All data requests should be forwarded to Kenneth G. Rice (352 264-3544 or ken_g_rice@usgs.gov).

Metadata_Reference_Information:
Metadata_Date: 20101102
Metadata_Contact:
Contact_Information:
Contact_Person_Primary:
Contact_Person: Heather Henkel
Contact_Organization: U.S. Geological Survey
Contact_Address:
Address_Type: mailing and physical address
Address: 600 Fourth Street South
City: St. Petersburg
State_or_Province: FL
Postal_Code: 33701
Country: USA
Contact_Voice_Telephone: 727 803-8747 ext 3028
Contact_Facsimile_Telephone: 727 803-2030
Contact_Electronic_Mail_Address: sofia-metadata@usgs.gov
Metadata_Standard_Name: Content Standard for Digital Geospatial Metadata
Metadata_Standard_Version: FGDC-STD-001-1998
Metadata_Access_Constraints: none
Metadata_Use_Constraints:
The principal investigator for this project has declined to provide a review of the information in the metadata record. Any questions about the information should be directed to the Point of Contact under Citation Information or the Process Contact(s).

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