SREL Reprint #3255

 

 

 

Spatial aspects of movements, mating patterns, and nest distributions influence gene flow among population subunits of Blanding's turtles (Emydoidea blandingii)

Jeanette M. McGuire1,2, Kim T. Scribner1,2, and Justin D. Congdon3

1Department of Zoology, Michigan State University, 203 Natural Science Building,
East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
2Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, Michigan State University, 13 Natural Resources Building,
East Lansing, MI 48824, USA
3Savannah River Ecology Laboratory, University of Georgia, Drawer E, Aiken, SC 29802, USA

Abstract: The core habitats of semi-aquatic organisms are centered on wetlands, but also include terrestrial habitats. Patterns of movements among core area components can influence rates of genetic and demographic exchange among populations. A combination of 33 years of data on the life history and spatial biology of Blanding’s turtles (Emydoidea blandingii) on the E. S. George Reserve (ESGR) and 8 years of genetic data (N = 244 adults and 611 offspring) were used to document resident wetlands, identify mating pairs, and estimate cohort levels of coancestry and degree of spatial genetic structuring. For ESGR resident females, 34% of clutches were sired by non-resident males, whereas 56% of clutches of non-resident females that nested on the ESGR were sired by ESGR resident males. The mean number of mates for males and females was 1.6 (SD = 0.67) and 2.02 (SD = 1.05), respectively, and the annual occurrence of multiple paternity averaged 47.6% (min–max = 15.4–55.6%, N = 8). Repeat paternity was common (69.6%), regardless of residence of parents. The probability of adults mating with individuals from different residence wetlands and tendencies for hatchlings to disperse to wetlands other than their mother’s residence contributed to demographic and genetic connectivity among residence wetlands. Similar allele frequencies among individuals from different residence wetlands (Fst = 0.002, P > 0.05) were consistent with the frequency and geographic extent of adult and juvenile movements. Data on mating patterns, individual movements, and core-habitat use helped identify mechanisms that influence genetic structuring within a population comprised of multiple sub-units.

Keywords: Functional connectivity, Blanding's turtle, Parentage, Gene flow, Life history, Behavioral ecology

SREL Reprint #3255

McGuire, J. M., K. T. Scribner, and J. D. Congdon. 2013. Spatial aspects of movements, mating patterns, and nest distributions influence gene flow among population subunits of Blanding's turtles (Emydoidea blandingii). Conservation Genetics 14(5): 1029-1042.

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