Population genetics of the American crocodile in Coiba National Park, Panama
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Population genetic studies provide information on the various aspects of genetics of species and therefore have a wide spread application in conservation research. This study assesses the genetic diversity, population subdivision, and genetic structure within the populations of the American crocodile (Crocodylus acutus) from eight localities in three sampling regions (mainland, northern and southern Coiba Island) in south -western Republic of Panama. A total of 143 individuals were characterized genetically by amplifying highly polymorphic microsatellite loci developed for Crocodylus. Microsatellite loci utilized in this study showed considerable allelic variation with a total of 61 alleles reported for nine loci across all localities with an average of 6.8 alleles per locus. A model based clustering analysis revealed the presence of three spatially overlapping genetic clusters among the sampled populations. All three estimates of population subdivision (FST, RST, and ΦPT) are consistent with the finding that the fine scale analysis of sampled populations revealed an overall presence of genetic subdivisions among and within the sampled localities. The Panamanian government should consider this information when designing conservation programs for the American crocodile in Coiba national park.