Conservation genetics of the alligator snapping turtle: Cytonuclear evidence of range-wide bottleneck effects and unusually pronounced geographic structure

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Abstract

A previous mtDNA study indicated that female-mediated gene flow was extremely rare among alligator snapping turtle populations in different drainages of the Gulf of Mexico. In this study, we used variation at seven microsatellite DNA loci to assess the possibility of male-mediated gene flow, we augmented the mtDNA survey with additional sampling of the large Mississippi River System, and we evaluated the hypothesis that the consistently low within-population mtDNA diversity reflects past population bottlenecks. The results show that dispersal between drainages of the Gulf of Mexico is rare (FSTmsat = 0.43, ΦSTmtDNA = 0.98). Past range-wide bottlenecks are indicated by several genetic signals, including low diversity for microsatellites (1.1-3.9 alleles/locus; He = 0.06-0.53) and mtDNA (h = 0.00 for most drainages; π = 0.000-0.001). Microsatellite data reinforce the conclusion from mtDNA that the Suwannee River population might eventually be recognized as a distinct taxonomic unit. It was the only population showing fixation or near fixation for otherwise rare microsatellite alleles. Six evolutionarily significant units are recommended on the basis of reciprocal mtDNA monophyly and high levels of microsatellite DNA divergence. © 2009 Springer Science+Business Media B.V.

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Echelle, A. A., Hackler, J. C., Lack, J. B., Ballard, S. R., Roman, J., Fox, S. F., … Van Den Bussche, R. A. (2010). Conservation genetics of the alligator snapping turtle: Cytonuclear evidence of range-wide bottleneck effects and unusually pronounced geographic structure. Conservation Genetics, 11(4), 1375–1387. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-009-9966-1

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