Turtle Population Genetics

By identifying regions of the genome that vary among members of the same species, we can track the movement and reproduction of individuals within and between populations. If, for instance, females return to nest at the same site they hatched from years earlier, we predict that genetically related females will be found nesting in the same area. If two species are hybridizing, we’ll expect to find gene copies characteristic of one species that show up in another species. Although we aren’t currently working with molecular markers, the findings from our earlier work helps to inform ours and other models. Check out Freedberg et al. (2005, 2011), Freedberg and Myers (2012), Mitchell et al. (2016), and Reinersten et al. (2016) for some of our work using molecular markers to study turtles.

I still love any excuse to catch turtles. If you’re a researcher who needs turtles collected in Minnesota, feel free to contact me.

  • Turtles in the bottom row were incubated at 25°C, leaving them with poor coordination and long righting times. Turtles in the middle row were incubated at 30°C and right quickly. Because female turtles must leave the water to build nests every year, they require more agility than males. Sex determination has evolved to produce females at the warm temperatures that benefit them most (Freedberg et al. 2001, Freedberg et al. 2004).