WILDLIFE PHOTOGRAPHY – DINNER ISLAND RANCH WMA, FL
This photograph of an American Alligator was taken at Dinner Island Ranch WMA with a Nikon D80 and a Tamron 28-300mm telephoto lens.
The American Alligator, Alligator mississippiensis, (known colloquially as simply gator) is one of the two living species of Alligator, a genus within the family Alligatoridae. The American Alligator is native only to the Southern United States, where it inhabits wetlands that frequently overlap with human-populated areas. It is larger than the other extant alligator species, the Chinese Alligator.
American alligators are mostly found in the Southeastern United States, from Great Dismal Swamp in Virginia/North Carolina south to Everglades National Park in Florida and west to the southern tip of Texas. They are found in the U.S. states of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Louisiana, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas, Virginia and Oklahoma. Florida and Louisiana currently have the largest population of alligators. Florida has an estimated population of 1 to 1.5 million while Louisiana has an estimated population of 1.5 to 2 million.
In Florida, alligators face ambient temperature patterns unlike elsewhere in their range. The consistently high temperatures lead to increased metabolic cost. Alligators in the Everglades have reduced length to weight ratio, reduced total length, and delayed onset of sexual maturity compared with other parts of their range. The reason for this poor condition is currently suspected to be a combination of low food availability and sustained high temperatures
Although primarily freshwater animals, alligators will occasionally venture into brackish water. Alligators live in wetlands and this is the vital habitat that holds the key to their continued long-term survival. Alligators depend on the wetlands, and in some ways the wetlands depend on them. As apex predators, they help control the population of rodents and other animals that might overtax the marshland vegetation.