Conservation Genetics

, 9:1263 | Cite as

Patterns of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA variation in Iberian populations of Emys orbicularis (Emydidae): conservation implications

  • Guillermo Velo-AntónEmail author
  • Mario García-París
  • Adolfo Cordero Rivera
Research Article


The European pond turtle (Emys orbicularis) is threatened and in decline in several regions of its natural range, due to habitat loss combined with population fragmentation. In this work, we have focused our efforts on studying the genetic diversity and structure of Iberian populations with a fine-scale sampling (254 turtles in 10 populations) and a representation from North Africa and Balearic island populations. Using both nuclear and mitochondrial markers (seven microsatellites, ∼1048 bp nDNA and ∼1500 bp mtDNA) we have carried out phylogenetic and demographic analyses. Our results show low values of genetic diversity at the mitochondrial level although our microsatellite dataset revealed relatively high levels of genetic variability with a latitudinal genetic trend decreasing from southern to northern populations. A moderate degree of genetic differentiation was estimated for Iberian populations (genetic distances, F ST values and clusters in the Bayesian analysis). The results in this study combining mtDNA and nDNA, provide the most comprehensive population genetic data for E. orbicularis in the Iberian Peninsula. Our results suggest that Iberian populations within the Iberian–Moroccan lineage should be considered as a single subspecies with five management units, and emphasize the importance of habitat management rather than population reinforcement (i.e. captive breeding and reintroduction) in this long-lived species.


Emys orbicularis Genetic diversity mtDNA nDNA Population structure 



We thank all the people who helped us to collect samples: César Ayres from most populations; Pedro Segurado from Portugal; Gonzalo Alarcos from Salamanca and Zamora; Judith Hidalgo, Matati, Alex Portheault and Ana Andreu from the Doñana National Park; Vicente Sancho and Ignacio Lacomba from Valencia; Alberto Álvarez from Madrid, Carlos Gómez Lorenzo from Ourense. Alain Veysset provided samples from Menorca; David Donaire and Salvador Carranza supplied samples from Morocco. David Buckley, Iñigo Martínez-Solano and three anonymous reviewers made helpful comments and suggestions on the manuscript. Christopher Beatty improved English on the manuscript. GV-A is supported by a grant from Galician Government (Conselleria de Innovación, Industria e Comercio, Xunta de Galicia). Funding was provided by Research grants from Xunta de Galicia (PGIDT01MAM37101PR, PGIDIT05RFO37101PR) and Cátedra Filgueira Valverde-Universidade de Vigo to ACR.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Guillermo Velo-Antón
    • 1
    Email author
  • Mario García-París
    • 2
  • Adolfo Cordero Rivera
    • 1
  1. 1.Grupo de Ecoloxía Evolutiva, Departamento de Ecoloxía e Bioloxía AnimalUniversidade de VigoPontevedraSpain
  2. 2.Museo Nacional de Ciencias NaturalesMadridSpain

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