American Alligator

Ancient Predator in the Modern World

American Alligator is the most up-to-date and comprehensive treatment of this resilient relic, a creature with a brain weighing less than half an ounce that has successfully adapted to a changing Earth for more than 200 million years.  Kelby Ouchley chronicles the evolution of Alligator mississippiensis from “shieldcroc”—the last common ancestor of modern-day alligators, crocodiles, caimans, and the gharial—to its current role as keystone of the ecological health of America’s southern swamps and marshes.  That the alligator lineage survives at all, having successfully weathered millions of years of environmental change, speaks to an impressive degree of fitness and adaptability.  The loss of the American alligator would be a blow to biodiversity and an ecosystem disruption affecting all levels of the food chain. While the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service removed it from the endangered species list in 1987 and today regulates the legal trade of the animal and its products, Ouchley cautions us not to forget the lessons learned: human activities, from urban development to energy production, can still threaten the future of the gator and its southern wetland habitat.  (Univ. Press of Florida, 2013)  [reviews & more at]]


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