We investigated the phylogeography of wood turtles, Glyptemys insculpta, in North America using 750 bp of the mitochondrial control region from 117 individuals sampled at 29 localities across the species’ range. A total of 21 haplotypes were identified and little genetic variation was found. The highest pairwise difference was 2%. From nested clade analysis (NCA), one main postglacial dispersal route was inferred along the east coast, with subsequent westward dispersal. NCA further revealed some patterns of restricted gene flow/dispersal. We propose that wood turtles experienced a combined effect of bottleneck during the Pleistocene as well as of selective sweep, which produced the low level of variation observed. Following the Pleistocene, wood turtles would have undergone a rapid northward expansion from a common southern refugium as glaciers retreated. These findings shed light on where to direct conservation priorities, on conservation strategies needed, and on the potential effects of interpopulation transfers for this vulnerable species.
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