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UNF researchers complete first-ever study of big-city urban alligators

UNF researchers in field holding baby alligatorUNF researchers recently published results in the Scientific Reports journal from a year-long survey of Jacksonville’s urban alligator population across nine tributaries of the St. Johns River. The researchers noted that this is the first study of alligator populations in cities ever completed.

The team of UNF students, led by Dr. Adam Rosenblatt, assistant professor of biology, found only one adult alligator among the sub-adults and juveniles, and learned that Jacksonville’s alligators tend to avoid saltier waters and the human-built environment. The team concluded that adult alligators are rare because they have been removed by hunters and nuisance trappers and that urban areas are generally not the best alligator habitats.

“It’s important for the health of alligators and all wildlife to create a more sustainable human-built environment by protecting and restoring local wetlands and decreasing pollution levels in waterways,” said Rosenblatt. “It’s equally important to do our part to help urban alligators from becoming ‘nuisances’ by never feeding or disturbing an alligator’s nest and staying alert when walking dogs near water.” 

The UNF research team will continue to track how alligator distribution across the city changes as the dredging project continues in the St. Johns River.

Read more about “Alligators in the big city: spatial ecology of American alligators at multiple scales across an urban landscape.”