Deby Cassill, Ph.D., Associate Professor, College of Arts and Sciences
University of South Florida St. Petersburg
The order Crocodylia includes two alligators, six caimans, thirteen crocodiles and two gharials species. In this study, the maternal investments by species in the order Crocodylia in offspring number, offspring size at hatch, and female body size were determined and compared to the predictions of the Smith-Fretwell maternal investments model and an alternative maternal investment model. The findings of this study contradict the Smith-Fretwell model and support the alternative model. The Smith-Fretwell model predicts that mothers who produce a larger number of offspring must sacrifice the quality of their offspring. Results showed that hatchlings were about the same size regardless of the number of eggs produced. On the other hand, according to the alternative maternal investment model, the predation rate on crocodilian offspring is far less than that of fish offspring but far greater than that of bird or mammal offspring. In addition, offspring mortality by starvation is less of an issue for crocodilians than it is for mammals and birds but it is a greater threat for crocodilians than it is for most species of fish.
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Lobaina, Ileisy, "EVOLUTION OF MATERNAL INVESTMENT STRATEGIES FOR THE ORDER CROCODYLIA" (2014). USFSP Honors Program Theses (Undergraduate). 158.