OCT 12, 2016 9:13 AM PDT

Interbreeding is Costing the Cuban Crocodile its Identity

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Throughout Cuba, the Cuban Crocodile can be found, but it’s not something you get to see all too often, as only a few thousand are thought to remain in the wild in the region.
 

A baby Cuban Crocodile being raised in captivity at the farm in the Zapata Swamp, Cuba.

 Image Credit: Desmond Boylan for Nature

Despite conservation efforts for the last several decades by the Cuban government, the Cuban Crocodile is in trouble, and now nature itself is proving to be an enemy of the species.
 
The Cuban Crocodile is reportedly interbreeding with the more resilient American Crocodile, and as a result, this is creating a genetic impurity in the species. Revealed in a recent genetic analysis from tissue sent to Canada and United States-based labs, this is tarnishing decades of conservation efforts.
 
More than half of the 227 wild Cuban Crocodiles tested were reportedly interbred, while comparatively, only 16% of the Cuban Crocodiles raised in captivity showed signs of interbreeding; a significantly lower number.
 
It wasn’t known they were interbreeding at this rate before this genetic analysis, as Cuba has been identifying the species by head shape rather than with modern DNA sampling due to the lack of modern technology in the region.
 
With this new data revealed, it’s now becoming a struggle between whether conservationists should continue trying to protect the species’ purity or to let nature take its course and allow the animals to interbreed with one another as they will to do.
 
There are pros and cons to each side of the story. For one, it would be beneficial to the region to save the genetic identity of the Cuban Crocodile because it’s somewhat of a symbol to the country.
 
On the other hand, letting nature take its course could help the Cuban Crocodile to survive, because the more resilient American Crocodile can tolerate salt water, which is important for a small country like Cuba, which is surrounded by ocean water on all sides.
 
Further hindering he success story of the Cuban Crocodile are Cuba’s own citizens, who continue to hunt the animal despite the steep fines imposed for doing so. Poverty in the region also affects what scientists can and can’t do to preserve the species, so it’s a really difficult problem to tackle.
 
Source: Nature

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 06, 2019
Genetics & Genomics
DEC 06, 2019
Invasive Mussels are Taking Over Australia's Coastlines
Any type of organism that is not native to a location but ends up there anyway is considered an invasive species....
DEC 29, 2019
Plants & Animals
DEC 29, 2019
Anthills Are Just the Tip of the Iceberg
At first glance, an anthill looks like a small pile of sand on the Earth with a tiny hole in the top that ants crawl into to evade danger, but they’r...
JAN 07, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
JAN 07, 2020
Can You Use Medical Marijuana on your Dog?
Marijuana is now legal in 33 states across the US, with more likely to follow in coming months. Yet, although its use as a medical supplement is becoming m...
JAN 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 12, 2020
This is Why You Shouldn't Mess With Beached Whales
When large whales die, one of two things can happen: 1) their bodies can sink to the bottom of the ocean and go on to support smaller life forms; or 2) the...
JAN 21, 2020
Plants & Animals
JAN 21, 2020
After Hibernation, These Grizzlies Turn to Clams for Nourishment
Grizzly bears spend up to seven Wintery months hibernating, and in that time, they can lose a substantial amount of their body weight. While surrounding ma...
FEB 09, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
FEB 09, 2020
Mosquitoes are Driven to Search for Heat in the Hunt for Meals
Mosquitoes can be dangerous disease vectors, and they infect and kill hundreds of thousands of people with illnesses like dengue, malaria, and West Nile Virus....
Loading Comments...