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Growth rates of black caiman (Melanosuchus niger) and spectacled caiman (Caiman crocodilus) from two different Amazonian flooded habitats

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Rates of growth and survival in wild populations are affected by the physical environment, biotic interactions, and density-dependent processes, such as growth and fecundity. However, the relative importance of these factors in long-lived reptiles is poorly understood. We analyzed growth rates of Melanosuchus niger and Caiman crocodilus coexisting in two areas of the Brazilian Amazon with very different environmental characteristics. Growth rates of Caiman crocodilus at the two sites were similar, but M. niger grew more slowly in the area with higher productivity and higher density of caimans. Growth rates of the same species from other sites and of the temperate-zone Alligator mississippiensis indicate large differences among sites, but little evidence that these differences are primarily due to differences in productivity or temperature. Demographic models used to estimate sustained yields from caiman harvests should take into account the likely importance of density-dependent growth.

Affiliations: 1: 1Laboratório de Zoologia Aplicada à Conservação, Departamento de Biologia, Instituto de Ciências Biológicas, Universidade Federal do Amazonas, Av. Gen. Rodrigo Otávio 3000, CEP 69077000, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil; 2: 2EMBRAPA Pantanal, CP 109, CEP 79320-900, Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul, Brazil; 3: 3Wildlife Conservation Society, PO Box 357520, Gainesville, Florida, USA; 4: 4Coordenação de Biodiversidade, Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas da Amazônia, CP 478, CEP 69011970, Manaus, Amazonas, Brazil

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2013-01-01
2016-12-08

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