Population genetics of Blanding’s turtle (Emys blandingii) in the midwestern United States
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- Sethuraman, A., McGaugh, S.E., Becker, M.L. et al. Conserv Genet (2014) 15: 61. doi:10.1007/s10592-013-0521-8
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Blanding’s turtle (Emys blandingii) has declined substantially in North America due to anthropogenic activities, leaving populations smaller and increasingly fragmented spatially. We sampled 212 turtles to evaluate variation at eight microsatellite loci within and among 18 populations of E. blandingii across its primary range in the midwestern United States (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska). All loci and populations were highly polymorphic. Our analyses also detected considerable genetic structure within and among the sampled localities, and revealed ancestral gene flow of E. blandingii in this region north and east from an ancient refugium in the central Great Plains, concordant with post-glacial recolonization timescales. The data further implied unexpected ‘links’ between geographically disparate populations in Nebraska and Illinois. Our study encourages conservation decisions to be mindful of the genetic uniqueness of populations of E. blandingii across its primary range.