Environmental engineer. Devoted parent. Water provider. Aquatic weed controller. Habitat provider. Wildlife manager. Keystone species.
All of the above phrases describe the many roles that American alligators play on Hilton Head Island. Alligators belong to a group of reptiles known as crocodilians, which also include crocodiles, caimans and gharials. Crocodilians are closely related to dinosaurs, but their closest living relatives are birds.