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The broad-snouted caiman population recovery in Argentina. A case of genetics conservation

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Caiman latirostris wild populations have suffered a drastic reduction in the past, and for that reason, a management and monitoring plan was applied since 1990 in Santa Fe, Argentina in order to achieve population recovery. Although ranching system has a noteworthy success in terms of population size recovering, there is no information about the estimation of population genetic parameters. In particular, the consequence of the bottleneck underwent by these populations has not been assessed. We evaluated variability and genetic structure of C. latirostris populations from Santa Fe through time, using microsatellites and mitochondrial DNA. Population genetic parameters were compared among four sites and three different periods to assess the impact of management activities, and effective population size was estimated in order to detect bottleneck events. We observed an increase in microsatellite variability and low genetic variability in mitochondrial lineages through time. Variability estimates are similar among sites in each sampling period; and there is scarce differentiation among them. The genetic background of each sampling site has changed through time; we assume this fact may be due to entry of individuals of different origin, through management and repopulation activities. Moreover, taking into account the expected heterozygosity and effective population size values, it can be assumed that bottleneck events indeed have occurred in the recent past. Our results suggest that, in addition to increasing population size, genetic variability of the species has been maintained. However, the information is still incomplete, and regular monitoring should continue in order to arrive to solid conclusions.

Affiliations: 1: 1Laboratorio de Genética, Departamento de Ciencias Naturales, Facultad de Humanidades y Ciencias, UNL, CONICET, Ciudad Universitaria, 3000 Santa Fe, Argentina ; 2: 2Proyecto Yacaré – Laboratorio de Zoología Aplicada: Anexo Vertebrados (FHUC – UNL / MASPyMA), A. del Valle 8700, 3000 Santa Fe, Argentina ; 3: 3Departamento Ecología, Genética y Evolución, Facultad de Ciencias Exactas y Naturales, Pab II, UBA, Ciudad Universitaria, 1428 Buenos Aires, Argentina ; 4: 4Instituto de Ciencias Veterinarias del Litoral, ICiVet-UNL-CONICET, Kreder 2805, 3080 Esperanza, Argentina

*Corresponding author; e-mail:

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