When you think of the Everglades, you think of alligators and crocodiles.

In Florida's Everglades, ten-foot-long alligators bask in the sun and the steamy heat, keeping an eye open for their next big catch.At night the swamp resounds with their roars and the ground trembles as they act out their mating rituals.
But alligators perform an important function in the Everglades. Studies of the alligator indicate that they contribute much to the preservation of plant and animal life.

Alligators keep the bony-scaled spotted garfish in check. Without control on the gar population, these fish would eat up all the valuable bass and bream, as well as other game fish.

The alligator contributes toward the preservation of living things by digging basinlike holes in areas where the water table fluctuates greatly. In the Everglades, these "gator holes" constitute the deepest pools. During periods of drought they are the last to dry up and so provide a refuge for various fish, amphibians and reptiles. Once the drought passes, the creature life preserved in the "gator holes" can begin to multiply. These holes also supply food and water for birds and mammals.

Even the movement of the alligator through its habitat has a beneficial effect on the landscape. Being a large reptile, the alligator makes channels through the plant life and thereby retards the processes that transform a pond into a marsh.

Nutrients derived from the alligator's droppings and remnants of its meals enrich the soil and contribute to the support luxuriant vegetation.
On the banks formed by material dredged from "gator holes" plants can start to grow that differ from those of the immediate surrounding area.

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