The saltwater crocodile is distributed throughout south-east Asia and Australia. In Australia, it is most abundant in the Northern Territory and Queensland, where it is sustainably farmed for its skins and meat. The aim of this study was to elucidate the relationships and genetic structure among saltwater crocodiles from the Northern Territory of Australia using mitochondrial control region sequences from 61 individuals, representing nine river basins and six of unknown origin, as well as published sequences from other regions. Eight mitochondrial control region haplotypes were identified among both published and novel sequences. Three of the haplotypes appear to be restricted to specimens from northern Australia, with a single haplotype being the most widely dispersed across all river basins. Although Analysis of Molecular Variance provides some support for differentiation among river basins, the frequency of shared haplotypes among these geographical units and median-joining network analysis do not support a clear genetic structure or phylogeographic pattern for saltwater crocodiles in the Northern Territory. The results of this study will assist in furthering our understanding of the genetic diversity of wild saltwater crocodile populations used for ranching in the Northern Territory, as well as providing a framework for assessing the origin of unknown specimens in the future.
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Vol. 60 • No. 1