Conservation Genetics

, Volume 8, Issue 2, pp 331–342 | Cite as

Unexpectedly low genetic divergences among populations of the threatened bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii)

  • Peter A. Rosenbaum
  • Jeanne M. Robertson
  • Kelly R. Zamudio
Original paper


We used mitochondrial DNA sequence comparisons to assess range-wide population structure and historical patterns of differentiation among populations of the bog turtle (Glyptemys muhlenbergii). This species is one of North America’s smallest and most endangered pond turtles, and is currently found in three largely disjunct groups of populations: in the southern U.S., in the northeast, and in the Finger Lakes and Lake Ontario Plains region of western and central New York State. All the New York sites and most of the northeastern sites were glaciated during the Pleistocene. We surveyed 2793 bases pairs of mitochondrial DNA spanning three genes (cytb, nd4, and d-loop) in 41 individuals from 21 populations throughout most of the bog turtle’s distribution. We found surprisingly low levels of divergence among populations, even in southern populations that have been hypothesized as refugia during times of climate change. Our data suggest populations of bog turtle’s suffered a bottleneck, followed by a rapid post-Pleistocene expansion into northern segments of the species’ range. We discuss historical changes in habitat availability and climate that may have influenced the historical deployment of lineages in this species, and possible life history traits and habitat dynamics that might also contribute to the overall low genetic diversity across its range.


Phylogeography Bottleneck Pleistocene Bog turtle Clemmys muhlenbergii 


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We thank Tim King and Robyn Johnson for tissues and DNA extracts from bog turtle populations in MA, PA, NC, and VA; Ann Somers and Project Bog Turtle for samples from NC and VA; Alison Whitlock and Michael Klemens for samples from MA; and Robert Zappalorti for samples from PA. The Royal Ontario Museum provided the tissue of G. insculpta. Diane Lynch (USFWS) kindly facilitated the necessary permits. Alvin Breisch, Jesse Jaycox, John Sullivan, and Andrew Nelson provided support and assistance in the field for sampling of New York populations. Field and lab studies were supported by grants and contracts from SUNY-Oswego, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Linnaeus Fund of the Chelonian Research Foundation (to PAR); remaining laboratory work was funded by NSF grant DEB-9907798 (to KZ). Labwork was performed in the Evolutionary Genetics Core Facility at Cornell University. We thank ␣J. Austin, F. Janzen, and two anonymous reviewers for comments on earlier versions of the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter A. Rosenbaum
    • 1
  • Jeanne M. Robertson
    • 2
  • Kelly R. Zamudio
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Biological SciencesState University of New York, OswegoOswegoUSA
  2. 2.Department of Ecology and Evolutionary BiologyCornell UniversityIthacaUSA

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