March 20, 2010
“Why Do We Need Alligators in the Swamp?”
An interactive session led by Dr. Lou Guillette
Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Florida (UF), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professor, and director of the HHMI UF G.A.T.O.R. Program
We live in a modern world and wonder, “why do we still have dangerous animals?” Why do we need animals – like the alligator – living in our swamps? We will explore the world of the alligator and why these animals are not only important to the swamp, but what they can tell us about the world we live in. We will discuss the concept of a “keystone species” and a “sentinel species.” A keystone species is one that other animals depend on and, if lost from our world, would lead to major changes in the environment. A sentinel species can be used to inform us about the health of a population or environment. We will learn just how the alligator is helping make a safer and cleaner environment for all of us.
Dr. Lou Guillette is a Distinguished Professor of Biology at the University of Florida (UF), Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Professor, and director of the HHMI UF G.A.T.O.R. Program. His research is concentrated in three main areas: 1. Influence of contaminants on the developmental and reproductive biology of wildlife and humans, 2. Endangered species reproduction, and 3. Evolution of maternal-fetal chemical communication.