Among the loss of genetic diversity due to population declines, population fragmentation and habitat loss, hybridization also stands as a threat to Morelet's crocodile (Crocodylus moreletii) populations. Genetic surveys in Belize and the Yucatan Peninsula have detected evidence of hybridization with the American crocodile (C. acutus). Admixture between these two species is most likely driven by human-mediated translocations. Along the central gulf coast of Mexico, C. moreletii populations are presumed to be purebred. To test this, we use nine microsatellite loci and sequence data from the mitochondrial control region to detect if C. acutus alleles have introgressed into populations of C. moreletii from central Veracruz. In 2010, C. moreletii was transferred from Appendix I to II of CITES based on a whole species demographic analysis, which indicated that populations had recovered across its range. Our study shows that populations in central Veracruz are purebred, although they exhibit low levels of genetic diversity most likely caused by inbreeding. Our data also suggest there is fragmentation among populations of C. moreletii, which may lead to further loss of genetic variation. Due the purity and low genetic diversity of C. moreletii populations from central Veracruz, we recommend increased protection and active management practices that take genetic data into account.
- Genetic diversity
- Morelet's crocodile