Laura N. Van Vranken; University of California, Merced; 4154 Tudal Ave, Merced, CA, 95348; (760) 207-3920; lauranvan@gmail.com; Rob L. Grasso, Danielle Edwards
Recent advances in genetic and genomic tools have improved our ability to detect patterns of population structure and differentiation across multiple spatial scales, particularly for non-model organisms. We aim to leverage these tools to characterize population and landscape genetic patterns for the Western pond turtle (Emys [Actinemys] marmorata) in an understudied portion of their range: the central Sierra Nevada and foothill region within and surrounding Yosemite National Park. Uncovering patterns of demography and structure within and between populations will allow us to guide pond turtle management in this region, primarily with the goal to direct reintroduction efforts of an extirpated population in Yosemite Valley. Preliminary results through mitochondrial DNA analyses present two distinct clades in the central Sierra, with the Merced River corridor acting as a barrier to the distribution of the southern clade. Future work will further identify population dynamics, including effective population sizes, genetic diversity, and gene flow, as well as determine if populations are adapted to their respective environmental conditions. These efforts will reveal patterns at the population and local landscape level, previously undocumented in this species, as well as inform conservation and management efforts for pond turtles in this region.
Yosemite Restoration I   Student Paper