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Keywords:

  • dispersal;
  • microsatellites;
  • Nerodia sipedon sipedon;
  • population differentiation;
  • water snakes

We describe the isolation and genetic characterization of eight microsatellite DNA loci from the northern water snake, Nerodia sipedon sipedon and use these loci to analyse levels of genetic differentiation between local (<2km apart) populations of these snakes in Ontario. These loci are variable, with expected heterozygosities ranging from 0.28 to 0.91, and can correctly exclude nonsires in parentage analyses with a high probability (0.998). Population analyses reveal significant deviation from expected heterozygosity levels for one population, probably a result of a null allele(s) at a single locus and small but significant levels of genetic differentiation among all three populations. This demonstrates that microgeographic genetic structure exists in this species, possibly due to limited dispersal.