Morphometrics, sex ratio, sexual size dimorphism, biomass, and population size of the Nile crocodile (Crocodylus niloticus) at its southern range limit in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa

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Publication Details

Contributor list: Warner JK, Combrink X, Calverley P, Champion G, Downs CT

Publisher: Springer Verlag (Germany)

Place: NEW YORK

Publication year: 2016

Journal: Zoomorphology (ISSN:0720-213X) (eISSN:1432-234X) PubCount Year: 2018, 2019, 2020

Journal acronym: ZOOMORPHOLOGY

Volume number: 135

Issue number: 4

Start page: 511

End page: 521

Number of pages: 11

ISSN: 0720-213X

eISSN: 1432-234X

Languages: English-Great Britain (EN-GB)


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Abstract

Animal body size and sex are requisite data for understanding population structure and demography. Little information exists regarding Nile crocodile, Crocodylus niloticus, morphometrics, sex ratios of wild populations, sexual size dimorphism and standing crop biomass. We captured 322 C. niloticus at Lake St Lucia and Ndumo Game Reserve, South Africa, the two largest crocodile populations at the southern extent of the species' range in Africa, and measured a suite of physical characteristics to create predictive models of body length from other morphological attributes and body mass. Our sample included 118 hatchlings, 91 subadults and 113 adults. Strong positive allometric relationships were found between body length metrics (total length and snout-vent length) and other morphometrics. All morphometric regressions were linear, with the exception of the relationship of body length to body mass, which was logarithmic. Among relationships of cranial morphology and body length, we found considerable individual variation among all size classes. The mean head width-to-head length ratio was 1.9 +/- 1.6, and mean head length-to-total length ratio was 0.14 +/- 0.005. The sex ratios for non-hatchling individuals at both populations were essentially 1:1, but adult sex ratios were male biased. We calculated a total standing crop biomass of 96,867.18 kg (161.45 kg/km) and 52,640.40 kg (1504.01 kg/km) for C. niloticus at Lake St Lucia and Ndumo Game Reserve, respectively, and an estimated 3650 non-hatchling individuals for the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The data presented here will help inform crocodile management and population surveys in South Africa, where C. niloticus is an important apex predator that partitions aquatic resources and occasionally comes into conflict with human beings.


Keywords

Apex predator, Aquatic vertebrate, Crocodilian, Herpetology, Wetland


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Last updated on 2020-20-04 at 05:12