The western pond turtle (Emys marmorata (syn. Actinemys marmorata) is the only freshwater turtle species which is native to southern California. Western pond turtles are listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the IUCN, and the species is included (or proposed to be included) in multi-species conservation plans throughout southern California. Ongoing threats to western pond turtle populations include habitat loss and the introduction of non-native turtle species, bass, and bullfrogs.
We are using state of the art genetic and analytical methods to measure both the extent of population connectivity and the levels of within population genetic diversity among western pond turtles in southern California in collaboration with the California Department of Fish and Game and Shaffer Lab at the University of California, Davis.
Data obtained during the course of this project will 1) enable the identification of genetically unique populations, 2) provide baseline data about the level of genetic diversity within and among populations, and 3) will be used to identify populations that may be especially vulnerable or that have greatly reduced levels of genetic diversity.
USGS Contact For This Project
This genetic infomation can then be used to inform decisions about population augmentation or relocation within southern California watersheds.