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Keywords:

  • Actinemys;
  • Clemmys;
  • Emys marmorata;
  • Intron;
  • nuclear gene phylogeography

Abstract

The historical biogeography of California’s taxa has been the focus of extensive research effort. The western pond turtle (Emys marmorata) is an example of a wide-ranging taxon that spans several well-known California diversity hotspots. Using a dataset comprised of one mitochondrial and five nuclear loci, we elucidate the major biogeographic patterns of the western pond turtle across the California landscape. By employing a combination of phylogenetic and network-based approaches, we recovered a relatively ancient (c. 2–8 Ma) north/south split among populations of E. marmorata and find an area of intergradation centred in the Central Coast Ranges of California. In addition, discordant mitochondrial/nuclear genetic patterns suggest subsequent gene flow from northern populations and from San Joaquin Valley populations into the Central Coast Ranges after the Pliocene-Pleistocene marine embayment of the Great Central Valley subsided. Our results emphasize the utility of nuclear DNA phylogeography for recovering the impact of relatively ancient biogeographic events, and suggest that the Central Coast Ranges of California have played a major role in the geographic structuring of the western pond turtle, and possibly other co-distributed taxa.