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Volume 40 - Number 2 - 2005
Nota Científica


Population ecology, distribution and habitat assessment of Crocodylus acutus (Cuvier 1807) in the “Reserva de producción de fauna manglares El Salado” of the Guayaquil Gulf Estuary, Ecuador

Raúl I. Carvajal1, Miguel Saavedra1 y Juan José Alava1,2,*

 

1 Fundación Natura Capítulo Guayaquil, Av. Carlos Julio Arosemena Km. 2.5. P.O. Box 09-01-11327, Guayaquil, Ecuador
2 School of the Environment, University of South Carolina, 901 Sumter Street, 702G Byrnes Building, Columbia, SC 29208 USA
*Dirección actual: Environmental Toxicology Research Group, School of Resource & Environmental Management, Simon Fraser University, 8888 University Drive, Burnaby, British Columbia V5A 1S6, Canada

 

E-mail: jalavasa@sfu.ca

 

An assessment on the population ecology, distribution and habitat of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) was conducted within the recent protected area “Reserva de producción de fauna manglares El Salado”, Gulf of Guayaquil, Ecuador. The study was developed along 15 km of mangrove channels and tidal creeks, using nocturnal spotlight boat surveys during the dry season (September to December, 2004). About four crocodiles, with a relative abundance of 0.45 ind./km, ranging 0.27–0.63 ind./km, were detected. Crocodiles were aggregated in the final extreme of a tidal creek (Estero Plano Seco), where the water salinity ranged 10.0–28.0 psu and releasing of effluents (>32.0°C) from electric power plants and run-off from urbanized centers have been evidenced. Most of the crocodile sightings occurred during low tide. The population was represented only by adults (50%) and juveniles (50%); subadults and hatchlings were not observed during the study period. The population density found in this study is one of the lowest densities for American crocodile in the American regions. The euryhaline ability and tolerance to inhabit elevated surface water temperature (thermoconformer) confirm the physiological adaptation of this reptile species. More ecologic and population studies are needed to elucidate some gaps and the environmental factors influencing on the species conservation, as well as the establishment of management strategies to ensure its survival.


Key words: population, density, salinity, temperature, American crocodile

 

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1Laboratorio de Zooplancton, Instituto de Ciencias del Mar y Limnología,Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México. A. P. 70-305, 04510 México, D. F. México
 
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