Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Groovy Turtles’ Genes to Aid in Their Rescue

06.05.2014

The diverse patterns on the diamondback terrapins’ intricately grooved shell may be their claim to fame, but a newly published U.S. Geological Survey study of the genetic variation underneath their shell holds one key to rescuing these coastal turtles.

Listed as an endangered species in Rhode Island and deemed threatened in Massachusetts, the terrapin is the only turtle in North America that spends its entire life in coastal marshes and mangroves. Seven different subspecies of terrapins are currently recognized by scientists based on external traits, such as their skin color and the shape of their shells. Each subspecies occupies a strip of the eastern seaboard or Gulf of Mexico coastline, from as far north as Massachusetts to as far west as Texas.

Many of the coastal states where terrapins are found have designated it a species of special concern, and the states are looking to address the issues the terrapins face due to fragmentation of their coastal habitats. An increasingly patchy swath of isolated coastal marshes makes it harder for terrapins to find each other and continue interbreeding as they have in the past.

“Before now, it was not clear how terrapin genetics varied across the range,” said Kristen Hart, a USGS research ecologist and lead author of the study. “Understanding this variation across the landscape helps land managers develop conservation plans. For example, they may pinpoint areas where habitat protection can be supplemented with migration corridors.”

... more about:
»DNA »USGS »populations »species »subspecies »turtles

Agencies often maintain migration corridors to help wildlife continue to breed based on their historic patterns. These are areas where habitat restoration, regulatory policies, or other means are used to ensure animals can pass safely between two or more prime areas of habitat. Well-placed corridors could maintain the terrapins’ existing natural diversity and keep their overall population numbers robust, explained Hart.

“Diversity loss can be a silent threat to many species,” explained Maggie Hunter, a USGS research geneticist and co-author of the study. “The threat to long-term survival of terrapins occurs if they become separated into isolated groups. Isolation can affect their overall survival several generations down the line.”

 To support a healthy mix of genetic diversity, however, managers must first understand the existing genetic variation.

“Healthy interbreeding doesn’t mean that turtles from Maine have to interbreed with those from Texas,” explained Hunter. “Once managers know where ‘natural breaks’ in populations occur, they can focus on keeping terrapin populations healthy by enabling reproduction within each of those distinct groups.”

To identify those natural genetic breaks, Hart teamed up with Hunter and USGS research geneticist Tim King to study their breeding patterns using DNA from the blood samples of nearly a thousand terrapins. Based on their variation in 12 genetic markers -- strands of DNA that King had decoded for comparative purposes -- the terrapins were assigned into genetically similar groups.

They found only 4 genetically distinct populations, which came as a surprise, given there are 7 recognized terrapin subspecies. This means the ‘natural breaks’ in breeding don’t correspond to the ranges of those subspecies.

The results of the genetic study offer one more benefit. During the 1920s, terrapins were considered a delicacy and hunted for their meat, and they still occasionally turn up as food in markets around the country. Now, wildlife agencies can use a DNA test to determine where these turtles came from, so they can return rescued turtles back to their original habitat.

The study, “Regional differentiation among populations of the Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)” was recently published in the journal Conservation Genetics

Rachel Pawlitz | Eurek Alert!
Further information:
http://www.usgs.gov/newsroom/article_pf.asp?ID=3881

Further reports about: DNA USGS populations species subspecies turtles

More articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation:

nachricht Removing fossil fuel subsidies will not reduce CO2 emissions as much as hoped
08.02.2018 | International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)

nachricht The disappearance of common species
01.02.2018 | Technical University of Munich (TUM)

All articles from Ecology, The Environment and Conservation >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Demonstration of a single molecule piezoelectric effect

Breakthrough provides a new concept of the design of molecular motors, sensors and electricity generators at nanoscale

Researchers from the Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry of the CAS (IOCB Prague), Institute of Physics of the CAS (IP CAS) and Palacký University...

Im Focus: Hybrid optics bring color imaging using ultrathin metalenses into focus

For photographers and scientists, lenses are lifesavers. They reflect and refract light, making possible the imaging systems that drive discovery through the microscope and preserve history through cameras.

But today's glass-based lenses are bulky and resist miniaturization. Next-generation technologies, such as ultrathin cameras or tiny microscopes, require...

Im Focus: Stem cell divisions in the adult brain seen for the first time

Scientists from the University of Zurich have succeeded for the first time in tracking individual stem cells and their neuronal progeny over months within the intact adult brain. This study sheds light on how new neurons are produced throughout life.

The generation of new nerve cells was once thought to taper off at the end of embryonic development. However, recent research has shown that the adult brain...

Im Focus: Interference as a new method for cooling quantum devices

Theoretical physicists propose to use negative interference to control heat flow in quantum devices. Study published in Physical Review Letters

Quantum computer parts are sensitive and need to be cooled to very low temperatures. Their tiny size makes them particularly susceptible to a temperature...

Im Focus: Autonomous 3D scanner supports individual manufacturing processes

Let’s say the armrest is broken in your vintage car. As things stand, you would need a lot of luck and persistence to find the right spare part. But in the world of Industrie 4.0 and production with batch sizes of one, you can simply scan the armrest and print it out. This is made possible by the first ever 3D scanner capable of working autonomously and in real time. The autonomous scanning system will be on display at the Hannover Messe Preview on February 6 and at the Hannover Messe proper from April 23 to 27, 2018 (Hall 6, Booth A30).

Part of the charm of vintage cars is that they stopped making them long ago, so it is special when you do see one out on the roads. If something breaks or...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on High Temperature Shape Memory Alloys (HTSMAs)

15.02.2018 | Event News

Aachen DC Grid Summit 2018

13.02.2018 | Event News

How Global Climate Policy Can Learn from the Energy Transition

12.02.2018 | Event News

 
Latest News

Fingerprints of quantum entanglement

16.02.2018 | Information Technology

'Living bandages': NUST MISIS scientists develop biocompatible anti-burn nanofibers

16.02.2018 | Health and Medicine

Hubble sees Neptune's mysterious shrinking storm

16.02.2018 | Physics and Astronomy

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>