Rediscovering the Apaporis Caiman (Caiman crocodilus apaporiensis): Notes from a Long-Anticipated Expedition

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Abstract

Caiman crocodilus apaporiensis has been of particular interest because of its clearly differentiated morphotype within the Spectacled Caiman complex. Information on the biology of C. c. apaporiensis is incomplete because of its restricted distribution in the inaccessible middle and upper Apaporis River in Colombia. I undertook an expedition to the middle Apaporis River basin in an attempt to validate the presence of C. c. apaporiensis through observations on morphometry, ecology, and ethnozoology. Previously described skull characteristics were clearly differentiable in both adults and subadults in the region. However, because many individual C. c. apaporiensis that were either captured or visually assessed were relatively small, some skull characteristics more closely resembled the more general C. crocodilus morphotype. Although data on population size and distribution of C. c. apaporiensis remain limited, information gleaned from local inhabitants indicates that the subspecies is common in the middle Apaporis River. Population parameter and molecular phylogeography studies could lead to management practices that would protect the genetic integrity of C. c. apaporiensis by minimizing subspecific interbreeding.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)310-315
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Herpetology
Volume53
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Oct 2019

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