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Population and conservation genetics of the gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus)
- Schwartz, Tonia S., Karl, Stephen A.
- Conservation genetics 2005 v.6 no.6 pp. 917-928
- Gopherus polyphemus, anthropogenic activities, databases, ecosystems, genetic variation, microsatellite repeats, population dynamics, shrublands, tortoises, Florida, Georgia
- The gopher tortoise (Gopherus polyphemus) is an important member of the sandhill, longleaf pine, and scrub ecosystems in the southeastern United States. Even though it is currently protected throughout its range, tortoise populations continue to decline. We assessed genetic diversity at nine microsatellite loci in 300 individuals from 21 locations throughout Florida and southern Georgia. Tortoise populations are clearly subdivided into at least eight genetic assemblages with an [graphic removed] . Furthermore, we found indications of anthropogenic effects in the form of population bottlenecks in five populations and putative admixture in four. From these data, we recommend that the populations be managed to maintain existing genetic structure without further isolation of populations and the establishment of a holistic database to include genetic and demographic information useful for relocation and management purposes.