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 Savannahs help to slow climate change
22.05.2015 | Max-Planck-Institut für Biogeochemie

nachricht Surviving Harsh Environments Becomes a Death-Trap for Specialist Corals
21.05.2015 | University of Southampton

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: Basel Physicists Develop Efficient Method of Signal Transmission from Nanocomponents

Physicists have developed an innovative method that could enable the efficient use of nanocomponents in electronic circuits. To achieve this, they have developed a layout in which a nanocomponent is connected to two electrical conductors, which uncouple the electrical signal in a highly efficient manner. The scientists at the Department of Physics and the Swiss Nanoscience Institute at the University of Basel have published their results in the scientific journal “Nature Communications” together with their colleagues from ETH Zurich.

Electronic components are becoming smaller and smaller. Components measuring just a few nanometers – the size of around ten atoms – are already being produced...

Im Focus: IoT-based Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation System

Development and implementation of an advanced automobile parking navigation platform for parking services

To fulfill the requirements of the industry, PolyU researchers developed the Advanced Automobile Parking Navigation Platform, which includes smart devices,...

Im Focus: First electrical car ferry in the world in operation in Norway now

  • Siemens delivers electric propulsion system and charging stations with lithium-ion batteries charged from hydro power
  • Ferry only uses 150 kilowatt hours (kWh) per route and reduces cost of fuel by 60 percent
  • Milestone on the road to operating emission-free ferries

The world's first electrical car and passenger ferry powered by batteries has entered service in Norway. The ferry only uses 150 kWh per route, which...

Im Focus: Into the ice – RV Polarstern opens the arctic season by setting course for Spitsbergen

On Tuesday, 19 May 2015 the research icebreaker Polarstern will leave its home port in Bremerhaven, setting a course for the Arctic. Led by Dr Ilka Peeken from the Alfred Wegener Institute, Helmholtz Centre for Polar and Marine Research (AWI) a team of 53 researchers from 11 countries will investigate the effects of climate change in the Arctic, from the surface ice floes down to the seafloor.

RV Polarstern will enter the sea-ice zone north of Spitsbergen. Covering two shallow regions on their way to deeper waters, the scientists on board will focus...

Im Focus: Gel filled with nanosponges cleans up MRSA infections

Nanoengineers at the University of California, San Diego developed a gel filled with toxin-absorbing nanosponges that could lead to an effective treatment for skin and wound infections caused by MRSA (methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus), an antibiotic-resistant bacteria. This "nanosponge-hydrogel" minimized the growth of skin lesions on mice infected with MRSA - without the use of antibiotics. The researchers recently published their findings online in Advanced Materials.

To make the nanosponge-hydrogel, the team mixed nanosponges, which are nanoparticles that absorb dangerous toxins produced by MRSA, E. coli and other...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International symposium: trends in spatial analysis and modelling for a more sustainable land use

20.05.2015 | Event News

15th conference of the International Association of Colloid and Interface Scientists

18.05.2015 | Event News

EHFG 2015: Securing health in Europe. Balancing priorities, sharing responsibilities

12.05.2015 | Event News

 
Latest News

Mesoporous Particles for the Development of Drug Delivery System Safe to Human Bodies

22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences

Computing at the Speed of Light

22.05.2015 | Information Technology

Development of Gold Nanoparticles That Control Osteogenic Differentiation of Stem Cells

22.05.2015 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>