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Top Story

Alligators, rulers of the swamps, link marine and freshwater ecosystems

Transmitters similar to those that track space mission orbiters are being used here on Earth to follow alligators, rulers of the swamps. The transmitters are allowing scientists to learn about alligator movements between freshwater and saltwater ecosystems. Ecologists at the National Science Foundation (NSF) Georgia Coastal Ecosystems Long-Term Ecological Research (LTER) site, one of 28 NSF LTER sites in the U.S. and around the world, used radio or GPS transmitters to track alligators' wanderings for as long as four months, placing the instruments on the alligators’ backs. The scientists discovered that the amount of time alligators spend in fresh or salt water depends on factors such as tide range and water temperature. Alligators move back and forth between marine and freshwater ecosystems to rebalance their salt levels -- and to feed.

Visit Website | Image credit: James Nifong