Demographic and genetic status of an isolated population of bog turtles (Glyptemys muhlenbergii): Implications for managing small populations of long-lived animals

Shannon E. Pittman, Timothy L. King, Søren Faurby, Michael E. Dorcas

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14 Scopus citations

Abstract

In this study, we sought to determine the population stability and genetic diversity of one isolated population of the federally-threatened bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii) in North Carolina. Using capture-recapture data, we estimated adult survival and population growth rate from 1992 to 2007. We found that the population decreased from an estimated 36 adult turtles in 1994 to approximately 11 adult turtles in 2007. We found a constant adult survival of 0. 893 (SE = 0. 018, 95% confidence interval, 0. 853-0. 924) between 1992 and 2007. Using 18 microsatellite markers, we compared the genetic status of this population with five other bog turtle populations. The target population displayed allelic richness (4. 8 ± 0. 5) and observed heterozygosity (0. 619 ± 0. 064) within the range of the other bog turtle populations. Coalescent analysis of population growth rate, effective population size, and timing of population structuring event also indicated the genetics of the target population were comparable to the other populations studied. Estimates of effective population size were a proportion of the census size in all populations except the target population, in which the effective population size was larger than the census size (30 turtles vs. 11 turtles). We attribute the high genetic diversity in the target population to the presence of multiple generations of old turtles. This study illustrates that the demographic status of populations of long-lived species may not be reflected genetically if a decline occurred recently. Consequently, the genetic integrity of populations of long-lived animals experiencing rapid demographic bottlenecks may be preserved through conservation efforts effective in addressing demographic problems.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1589-1601
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Genetics
Volume12
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2011

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
  • Genetics

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