Faculty Publications

Conservation Genetics Of A Peripherally Isolated Population Of The Wood Turtle (Glyptemys Insculpta) In Iowa

Document Type



Genetic diversity, Glyptemys insculpta, Long generation time, Peripheral isolate, Poor recruitment

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Conservation Genetics





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The North American wood turtle, Glyptemys insculpta, is a semi-aquatic species that is considered rare, threatened, or endangered over much of its range. In this study, a particularly vulnerable peripheral isolate population in Iowa has been monitored over a period of 7 years. Population census size, estimated from mark-recapture data, and age structure determined from morphology are compared with genetic variation assessed using microsatellites. For reference, the genetics and demographics of this peripheral isolate are compared to data from a more dense population nearer the core of the species range in West Virginia. Geneflow between the Iowa population and a nearby population in Minnesota also is assessed. Genetic data indicate that the Iowa population is isolated, unique, and diverse. Although the Iowa population has lower allelic richness, lower heterozygosity, and smaller genetic effective population size than does the West Virginia population, the difference is not dramatic despite its lower population size, position at the periphery of the species range, and biogeographic history. The Iowa population is not inbred, and there is no genetic signature of a recent population bottleneck. However, interpretations of recent population dynamics based on genetic data may be unduly encouraging in long-lived species such as G. insculpta. Field data suggest a nearly complete lack of recruitment in Iowa. A number of environmental and anthropogenic factors, including recent increases in summer flooding during egg incubation, may have a more negative impact on the Iowa population than on the West Virginia population. © 2010 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.


Department of Biology

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DOI of published version