Genetic characterization of captive cuban crocodiles (Crocodylus rhombifer) and evidence of hybridization with the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

Jeremy P. Weaver, David Rodriguez, Miryam Venegas-Anaya, José Rogelio Cedeño-VÁZQUEZ, Michael R.J. Forstner, Llewellyn D. Densmore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations

Abstract

There is a surprising lack of genetic data for the Cuban crocodile (Crocodylus rhombifer), especially given its status as a critically endangered species. Samples from captive individuals were used to genetically characterize this species in comparison with other New World crocodilians. Partial mitochondrial sequence data were generated from cyt-b (843 bp) and the tRNA Pro- tRNAPhe-D-loop region (442 bp). Phylogenetic analyses were performed by generating maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and Bayesian-based topologies. In addition, in an effort to identify species-specific alleles, ten polymorphic microsatellite loci were genotyped. Distance and model-based clustering analyses were performed on microsatellite data, in addition to a model-based assignment of hybrid types. Both mitochondrial and nuclear markers identified two distinct C. rhombifer genetic sub-clades (α and β); and microsatellite analyses revealed that most admixed individuals were F2 hybrids between C. rhombifer-α and the American crocodile (C. acutus). All individuals in the C. rhombifer-β group were morphologically identified as C. acutus and formed a distinct genetic assemblage.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)649-660
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Experimental Zoology Part A: Ecological Genetics and Physiology
Volume309
Issue number10
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 2008

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