Breanna Gould

A landscape genetic analysis of eastern box turtles (Terrapene carolina carolina)

Reptiles represent some of the most imperiled species on the planet, with 25% listed by the Fish and Wildlife Service as threatened or endangered. Habitat loss and degradation have been cited as principle threats to the reptile populations, and their unique life-history characteristics compound their susceptibility to these threats. Regionally, the eastern box turtle (Terrapene carolina carolina) is listed as a species of special concern, and their geographic range in Michigan has declined from 31 to 18 counties in the last decade. Population isolation and reduction can be accompanied by disrupted gene flow and losses of genetic diversity, leading to inbreeding and ultimately affecting survival and reproduction. Maintaining gene flow via dispersal is necessary to increase genetic diversity and counteract the deleterious effects of inbreeding. Given this, we assessed current levels of genetic diversity among individuals of T. c. carolina located within two regions of the Manistee National Forest. Using a known suite of microsatellites to generate genotypes specific to each individual, we report whether significant losses have occurred. Results are presented here, and are relevant for regional conservation of eastern box turtle populations.

Faculty Mentor: Jennifer Moore, Biology

Page last modified March 21, 2014