Results are presented of an investigation into the status of Morelet's Crocodile in the Macal River watershed, a little known upland tributary system in Belize. During spotlight surveys in February 2001 and September 2002, numerous individuals were observed representing a wide range of size classes. Sequence analyses of mtDNA from captured animals show that crocodiles in the area represent a genetically pure strain of C. moreletii. No evidence of hybridisation with the American Crocodile (C. acutus) was detected, as observed in animals from other sampled localities (northern lowlands). Due to their relative isolation, crocodiles in the Macal watershed may thus function as a regionally important population source for C. moreletii should introgression with C. acutus spread over time. Differences between C. moreletii in the Macal and northern lowlands were apparent also in aspects of ecology.
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|Published - Sep 2003