Species of the Month

American Alligator
Alligator mississippiensis

Description Large reptile with thick limbs, broad head, and powerful tail that accounts for half of their length. Adults are dark gray to nearly black above and dull white or pale yellow below. Hatchlings and juveniles are black above with six to nine yellow crossbands down the middle of back and yellow vertical bards on the sides of their body and tail.
Size Adult females usually <9’, males usually <14’, hatchlings usually 8.1-10.4”
Habitat Usually found in permanent wetlands and slow-moving rivers, but may also occur in swamps, ditches, temporarily flooded depressions, marshes, and lakes.
Diet Young alligators feed on aquatic insects, crawfish, small fish, and frogs. Adults feed on fish, frogs, turtles, waterfowl, wading birds, and small mammals.
Distribution and Status Alligators occur statewide and their population in Louisiana is estimated at >1.5 million. The species was listed under the ESA as endangered in 1967 due to overhunting, but their numbers recovered in many areas and the American alligator was removed from the list of endangered species in 1987.
Fun facts Alligators have between 74 and 80 teeth at any given time and can replace >2,000 teeth in their lifetimes. Alligators can use tools (e.g., sticks, branches) to lure in their prey. Alligators are quite vocal and have different calls to defend their territories, signal distress, and find mates.

Species Information

2009 Fall Symposium

The 2009 Fall Symposium was held on August 13th and 14th at the Estuarine Habitats and Coastal Fisheries Center in Lafayette. Nearly 100 scientists, managers, educators and students met to discuss some of the leading topics in the world of natural resource management, renew old friendships and professional acquaintances and make new ones.


We heard 12 student presentations on recent research topics including colonial waterbird nesting on barrier islands, grassland birds, lichens, forested wetlands, waterfowl, shorebirds, parasites on river shrimp and coastal marshes.




Focus Session Presentations

Alexander J. Peret of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries presenting Giant Salvinia (Salvina molesta) in Louisiana Waterways - A Multiple Management Approach.

Giant salvinia (Salvinia molesta) is an invasive aquatic floating fern native to South America. It has been considered by some to be the world’s worst aquatic weed due to its capability of doubling in biomass every 7-10 days. Giant salvinia was first documented in Louisiana in 1998 and has since threatened the state’s freshwater natural resources. It is a difficult weed to manage not only because of its high growth rate but also because its location can be altered quickly by changes in wind and current direction, causing areas that were previously clear to become clogged in just hours. Managers with the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries have been experimenting with several control methods over the past few years. Chemical control through the use of foliar and injected herbicides is only moderately effective due to the physical characteristics of the plant, and can be expensive. However, whole water body treatments have been successful when appropriate and economically feasible. Mechanical removal of giant salvinia is effective, but is extremely labor intensive and not efficient. Grass carp will not eat the plant because it makes them sick, but a potentially effective biological control method is currently being developed. Giant salvinia weevils have been shown to significantly decrease the biomass of the plant over time. Though it could take several years to become effective, giant salvinia weevil introductions, along with continued chemical and mechanical control efforts, may allow us to regain control of our freshwater resources.

Brac Salyers of Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries presenting
The Discovery of, and Rapid Response to, a WIld Population of Tilapia in Port Sulfur, Louisiana

Whether it’s by displacing native species, altering or destroying habitats, over competition for resources, or excessive reproduction, aquatic invasive species are becoming a much greater and more obvious problem across the country, especially here in Louisiana. South Louisiana’s sub-tropical climate provides us with longer growing seasons, milder winters, and the resulting opportunity for many exotic species to become established here that wouldn’t be able to survive in most other parts of the country.

In early 2009, LDWF biologists found a thriving, reproducing population of tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) in Plaquemines Parish, around the town of Port Sulphur, LA. For many weeks following this discovery, biologists sampled every connecting, adjacent, and nearby waterway to try to figure out how far this population had spread. Once the range of exactly where these fish were and were not found was established, the Secretary of LDWF, Mr. Robert Barham, issued an immediate closure of all commercial and recreational fishing in the area. A rapid response plan was quickly developed to attempt an eradication of all the infected waterbodies. This presentation will discuss the efforts of that rapid response plan, along with the results, and future plans for the areas within the fishing closure of the Port Sulphur community.

Scott Edwards of USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service presenting Cogongrass: Biology, Distribution, Impacts and Control Strategies for Louisiana

Cogongrass (Imperata cylindrica) is an invasive noxious grass that spreads by aggressive underground rhizomes and light fluffy seed. Unchecked this grass will completely dominate and displace desired species in non-cultivated sites, including pastures, fallow fields, forests, parks, highway and railroad rights-of-way. Cogongrass will not persist in frequently cultivated areas, but once established it is difficult to eliminate. Mowing or burning removes above ground vegetation, which opens the plant canopy for emergence of seedlings and new stems from rhizomes. Although single mechanical treatments are not effective, sequential combinations of mechanical and chemical treatments applied in a persistent manner can eliminate a cogongrass infestation. Various local, state and federal programs have had varying rates of success suppressing the spread of cogongrass across the southeastern U.S. This presentation will discuss the basic biology of the plant, mode and extent of infestation, control options and examples of programs available for cogongrass management in Louisiana.

Hallie Dozier of LSU AgCenter, School of Renewable Natural Resources presenting Introduction to Invasive Species in Louisiana: What We Have, What We Don't Want and What We're Doing About it .

Increased transport of non-native plant materials and animals promotes invasion of natural areas by non-native species. Invasive populations of non-native species are considered to be second only to ecosystem fragmentation in terms of the threat posed to natural areas. Animals and plants are introduced intentionally for a variety of reasons, including agricultural, fiber, ornamental purposes, and even the exotic pet trade. While most introduced species never cause problems or become invasive, Louisiana currently faces the challenges posed by several plant and animal species that now call Louisiana home. The economic impact of these species from degradation of natural areas as well as the cost of their management and control is potentially enormous. Learn the latest about spread, threat and management efforts in Louisiana for cogon grass, nutria, Chinese privet and others.


The social Thursday evening had over 40 participants that enjoyed a wonderful jambalaya dinner, great company which followed with award presentations and announcement of scholarship recipients.



An important part of LAPB's mission is mentoring our young professionals. Part of this mentoring is the awarding of prizes for best student presentations given at the annual LAPB Fall Symposium. Student presentations are judged on the scientific soundness of the research as well as the quality of the presentation. A Best Poster award is also given out to students and non-students who have submitted a poster to the Poster Session. Lastly, LAPB gives out an award to an outstanding publication in Wildlife, Fisheries, General Conservation, and Popular categories.

Click Here to See Larger ImageThe award for Best Student Presentation was given to Matt Pieron from LSU (right), shown here receiving the award from LAPB President-Elect Kim Marie Tolson.


The 2nd place award for Best Student Presentation was given to Scott Walter of ULL (right) by LAPB President-Elect Kim Marie Tolson.


The 3rd place award for Best Student Presentation was given to Matt Pardue from ULM (right), shown here receiving the award from LAPB President-Elect Kim Marie Tolson.


LAPB President Mike Carloss presents President-Elect Kim Marie Tolson the Wildlife Publication Award.


Meeting Notes

LAPB/LA Chapter of The WIldlife Society Fall Business Meeting Notes


LAPB Fall 2009 Sympsoium Program with Abstracts

Back to symposium list