Climate Change effects on Alligators: Research at UNF

Jessica May

Video by Jessica May

Alligators, Florida’s native iconic animal, could be lead to their extinction due to the rising temperatures of the planet.

20 nests and 400 total alligator eggs sit atop the roof of an unspecified UNF building, incubating in the hot summer sun. These eggs are covered in straw, dirt and mud, recreating their natural nest structure and raising the temperature of half of the nests using vinyl.

Adam Rosenblatt, an assistant biology professor and the scientist behind this experiment is finding out how alligators may be affected in the long run by the warming planet.

Alligators’ sex is determined by the temperature of the nest rather than genetics. If the earth is warming, then so are the alligator nests. If the nest is too warm, there will be more females, according to Rosenblatt, who started the experiment with some undergrad students at UNF.

“I have been able to work with a couple of UNF undergrads on this project, and that the great thing about doing this kind of research at UNF is that you get to work with motivated young students and scientists,” Rosenblatt said. “It gives them a great opportunity to learn about the problems we’re going to face in the future.”

The eggs are expected to hatch sometime in mid-August. Then throughout the rest of the month, the eggs will all hatch one-by-one.

“There are 20 different nests that are incubating, and they are probably not going to hatch all at the same time. I hope they don’t all hatch at the same time because that will be a lot to deal with at the same time,” Rosenblatt said.

After the sex of the alligators is determined, the babies will be loaded into a UNF van to travel back to Louisiana where they originally came from to live out the rest of their lives.

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