Paper Type

Master's Thesis


College of Arts and Sciences

Degree Name

Master of Science in Biology (MS)



NACO controlled Corporate Body

University of North Florida. Department of Biology

First Advisor

Dr. Adam Rosenblatt

Second Advisor

Dr. Eric Johnson

Third Advisor

Dr. Kent Vliet


American alligators (Alligator mississippiensis) have received little scientific attention in the context of human-driven land use change. The goal of my study is to investigate how land use change may be affecting the spatial ecology of alligator nesting in Florida. Areas directly impacted by humans are growing rapidly in Florida, yet the impacts of this land use change on alligator populations and reproduction are largely unknown. Alligators are ecosystem engineers and apex predators, and their nests often double as nests for other reptilian species. Therefore, it is imperative that we understand how human-driven land use change may be impacting alligator nest site preferences and reproduction. Using historical nest GPS data, human footprint data, and data from the National Land Cover Database I examined the effects of human-driven land use change on alligator nesting patterns across ten Florida lakes. I did not find almost any statistically significant difference between alligator nesting patterns in high human impact areas and low human impact areas. This result agrees with a growing body of literature that shows wildlife tend to respond more strongly to direct interactions with humans compared to indirect interactions with human impacts on the surrounding landscape. My results suggest that as long as alligator nesting habitat stays intact and usable, female alligators appear to be willing and able to nest in areas of relatively high levels of human impacts.