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Shifts in hatching date of American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) in southern Florida

January 20, 2020

Globally temperature of marine environments is on the rise and temperature plays an important role in the life-history of reptiles. In this study, we examined the relationship between sea surface temperature and average date of hatching for American crocodiles (Crocodylus acutus) over a 37-year period at two nesting sites, Everglades National Park and Florida Power and Light Turkey Point Power Plant site in southern Florida. Our results indicate that hatch dates are shifting 1.5 days earlier every two years and at half that rate for the Turkey Point site, and with every 1 °C degree increase in temperature, hatching occurs about 10 days earlier in the Everglades and 6 days earlier at Turkey Point. Our results on shifting hatch dates for American crocodiles provide further details about the impacts of temperature change on crocodile life history and suggest that increased temperature may affect their phenology.