German Journal of Herpetology

Spitzweg, C., P. Praschag, S. DiRuzzo & U. Fritz

In Issues 2018

Conservation genetics of the northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) breeding project using a microsatellite marker system. pp. 63-70 plus Supplementary material.

Abstract. The drastic decline of the critically endangered northern river terrapin (Batagur baska) prompted a large-scale captive breeding project in Bangladesh and Austria, with the first captive-bred offspring in 2010. Initially, males and females were kept together and mated without any system. However, controlled breeding was desired to conserve genetic diversity. For revealing relationships among the adult breeding stock and parentages of juveniles, we established a powerful genetic marker system using 13 microsatellite loci. Our results indicate that most wild-caught adults of the breeding groups are related, suggesting that the wild populations experienced a severe decline long time ago. We develop recommendations for breeding to preserve a maximum of genetic diversity. In addition, we provide firm genetic evidence for multiple paternity and sperm storage in B. baska. Our microsatellite marker system is promising to be useful in breeding projects for the other five Batagur species, which are all considered to be Critically Endangered or Endangered. We recommend implementing conservation genetic assessments for captive breeding projects of turtles on a broader scale to preserve genetic diversity and to avoid inbreeding.

Key words. Bangladesh, captive breeding, conservation, Critically Endangered, India, pedigree.