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Satellite Telemetry of Crocodylus acutus in Jamaica: Habitat Selection and Management Implications

Jeffrey S. Beauchamp1,2,*, Byron S. Wilson3, Kurt McLaren3, Joseph A. Wasilewski4, Lawrence P. Henriques5, and Frank J. Mazzotti1

1Fort Lauderdale Research and Education Center, University of Florida, Davie, FL 33401, USA.
2Current address - US Fish and Wildlife Service, Roswell, NM 88201, USA. 3Department of Life Sciences, The University of the West Indies, Mona, Kingston 7, Jamaica. 4Natural Selections, Homestead, FL 33031, USA. 5St. Thomas, Jamaica. *Corresponding author.

Caribbean Naturalist, No. 62 (2019)

Crocodylus acutus (American Crocodile) is primarily a coastal species that occurs in brackish wetlands, ponds, and estuarine rivers. In Jamaica, most of the moderate–high quality crocodile habitat is concentrated in isolated sections along the southern coast. Management of C. acutus in Jamaica is focused primarily on removing or translocating nuisance crocodiles to less-urbanized areas. We used satellite telemetry to understand the efficacy of translocation efforts, as well as to investigate spatial use and patterns of habitat preference. Home ranges (95% kernel density estimate; KDE) varied from 5.1 to 58.8 km2; core areas (50% KDE) varied from 1.0 to 11.9 km2; and minimum convex polygons varied from 2.2 to 33.6 km2. Crocodiles used and selected for wetland forest habitat, and selected against open water and dry forest habitats. One translocated C. acutus moved directly to a bridge where tourists and locals feed crocodiles, and 2 translocated C. acutus established home ranges in the footprint of a former proposed international shipping hub. We recommend an extensive country-wide survey, a public outreach program, an evaluation of the nuisance crocodile management plan, and strong enforcement of The Wildlife Protection Act of 1971.

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