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Study Rules Out Hybridization of Yellow and Pink Iguanas on Wolf Volcano

October 15, 2018

Yellow and pink land iguanas

A recent study ruled out hybridization between the yellow land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus) and pink land iguanas (C. marthae) that cohabit at the top of the Wolf volcano — revealing that there is no genetic contamination among these two populations.

These results are part of research carried out since 2009 between the Galapagos National Park Directorate  (GNPD) and the Tor Vergara University in Italy on the pink iguanas, which were identified as a new species that year, and on which progress is being made in the knowledge of its biology and ecology.

“This discovery will facilitate the start of a new captive breeding program, since all the individuals selected will be representative of the genetic variability of the species,” said Gabriele Gentile, research associate and project leader.

The same study revealed that on the South Plaza Island there is occasional hybridization between marine iguanas (Amblyrhynchus cristatus) and yellow land iguanas (Conolophus subcristatus), forming infertile first generation individuals. This hybridization is not a cause for concern, since it does not generate movement of genes from one species to another.

“Scientific knowledge is fundamental for the development of management programs and conservation of species, because it allows decisions to be made with the least uncertainty — especially when dealing with fragile ecosystems like those of the Galapagos,” commented Jorge Carrión, director of the GNPD and part of the scientific research team.

Content translated from the Galapagos National Park Directorate, with their permission.

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