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Multiple Paternity in a Reintroduced Population of the Orinoco Crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) at the El Frío Biological Station, Venezuela

Rossi, Natalia Alejandra; Antelo, Rafael; Alda, Fernando; Martensson, Dick; Hailer, Frank; Castroviejo-Fisher, Santiago; Ayarzagüena, José; Ginsberg, Joshua R.; Castroviejo, Javier; Doadrio, Ignacio; Vilá, Carles; Amato, George

The success of a reintroduction program is determined by the ability of individuals to reproduce and thrive. Hence, an understanding of the mating system and breeding strategies of reintroduced species can be critical to the success, evaluation and effective management of reintroduction programs. As one of the most threatened crocodile species in the world, the Orinoco crocodile (Crocodylus intermedius) has been reduced to only a few wild populations in the Llanos of Venezuela and Colombia. One of these populations was founded by reintroduction at Caño Macanillal and La Ramera lagoon within the El Frío Biological Station, Venezuela. Twenty egg clutches of C. intermedius were collected at the El Frío Biological Station for incubation in the lab and release of juveniles after one year. Analyzing 17 polymorphic microsatellite loci from 335 hatchlings we found multiple paternity in C. intermedius, with half of the 20 clutches fathered by two or three males. Sixteen mothers and 14 fathers were inferred by reconstruction of multilocus parental genotypes. Our findings showed skewed paternal contributions to multiple-sired clutches in four of the clutches (40%), leading to an overall unequal contribution of offspring among fathers with six of the 14 inferred males fathering 90% of the total offspring, and three of those six males fathering more than 70% of the total offspring. Our results provide the first evidence of multiple paternity occurring in the Orinoco crocodile and confirm the success of reintroduction efforts of this critically endangered species in the El Frío Biological Station, Venezuela.

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Academic Units
Center for Environmental Sustainability
Ecology, Evolution, and Environmental Biology
Publisher
Public Library of Science
Published Here
April 27, 2016
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