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Monday, January 25 • 2:20pm - 2:40pm
Landscape Genetics and Wood Turtles

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AUTHORS: Deahn Donner*, USDA Forest Service; Paula Marquardt, USDA Forest Service; Donald Brown, West Virginia University

ABSTRACT: Conservation efforts for disconnected populations can be improved with information on broad-scale dispersal movement patterns. Using landscape genetic approaches can identify movement patterns by characterizing population structure and linking this structure spatially with landscape features. Wood turtles Glyptemys insculpta are a species of concern due to reported range-wide population declines. The western Great Lakes population is disconnected from the larger northeastern population. The western population is found primarily in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota, but an isolated population exists in Iowa. Previous genetic research in this region showed evidence of lower allelic richness and heterozygosity indicating spatial isolation, but sampling was limited. The loss of genetic diversity has major implications on species persistence, and identifying potential landscape barriers is imperative. In spring of 2015, we began a study to identify population spatial structure across the Great Lakes Region using genetic analysis. Our objective is to determine the extent of gene flow between spatially separated populations. We expect riverways to be dispersal corridors, as wood turtles have been found to stay near running water during summer months when they are primarily terrestrial. Our goal is to collect 20 individuals from two sites within each water basin boundary. To date, we collected blood samples from 67 wood turtles: 42 turtles across six sites in Minnesota and 25 turtles across two sites in Wisconsin. Of the Minnesota turtles, seven were male and 35 were female; eight were male and 17 were female in Wisconsin. Sampling will continue in 2016, but sampling a large geographic area during a fairly short window requires partnerships that we hope to develop with this presentation. Results from our study will be combined with similar genetic research being conducted in the northeastern population to obtain a range-wide analysis of population connectivity.

Monday January 25, 2016 2:20pm - 2:40pm EST
Emerald B