Population genetics of Blanding's turtle (Emys blandingii) in the midwestern United States

Arun Sethuraman, Suzanne E. McGaugh, Morgan L. Becker, Christopher H. Chandler, James L. Christiansen, Sue Hayden, Andrea LeClere, Jennifer Monson-Miller, Erin M. Myers, Ryan T. Paitz, Jeanine M. Refsnider, Terry J. VanDeWalle, Fredric J. Janzen

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Blanding's turtle (Emys blandingii) has declined substantially in North America due to anthropogenic activities, leaving populations smaller and increasingly fragmented spatially. We sampled 212 turtles to evaluate variation at eight microsatellite loci within and among 18 populations of E. blandingii across its primary range in the midwestern United States (Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska). All loci and populations were highly polymorphic. Our analyses also detected considerable genetic structure within and among the sampled localities, and revealed ancestral gene flow of E. blandingii in this region north and east from an ancient refugium in the central Great Plains, concordant with post-glacial recolonization timescales. The data further implied unexpected 'links' between geographically disparate populations in Nebraska and Illinois. Our study encourages conservation decisions to be mindful of the genetic uniqueness of populations of E. blandingii across its primary range.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)61-73
Number of pages13
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2014



  • Gene flow
  • North American phylogeography
  • Population genetics
  • Turtles

Cite this

Sethuraman, A., McGaugh, S. E., Becker, M. L., Chandler, C. H., Christiansen, J. L., Hayden, S., LeClere, A., Monson-Miller, J., Myers, E. M., Paitz, R. T., Refsnider, J. M., VanDeWalle, T. J., & Janzen, F. J. (2014). Population genetics of Blanding's turtle (Emys blandingii) in the midwestern United States. Conservation Genetics, 15(1), 61-73. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10592-013-0521-8