Reciprocal Intraguild Predation between Alligator mississippiensis and Elasmobranchii

Published in September 2017

Reciprocal Intraguild Predation between Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) and Elasmobranchii in the Southeastern United States

James C. Nifong and Russell H. Lowers


The food habits and predatory interactions of Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator) have been thoroughly studied within populations inhabiting inland freshwater ecosystems; however, it is increasingly evident that coastal populations habitually forage in estuarine and nearshore marine ecosystems inhabited by other top predators. While few studies have been performed, data reported thus far from marine-foraging populations indicate individuals chiefly consume small-bodied prey such as crustaceans, fish, and wading birds. Nonetheless, capture and consumption of large-bodied marine prey such as multiple species of sea turtles and a single species of Elasmobranchii (sharks and rays) have been documented. Here, we examine evidence regarding reciprocal intraguild predation between American Alligators and elasmobranchs. We provide the first evidence of American Alligator depredation of 4 Elasmobranchii species and review putative evidence for Elasmobranchii depredation of American Alligators. We discuss the ecological significance of these interactions, draw comparisons to similar interactions experienced by other crocodilians, and recommend further avenues for research on the subject.

Southeastern Naturalist 16(3):383-396. DOI: 10.1656/058.016.0306



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