Beginning in 2010, blood and carapace samples are being collected from Western Painted Turtles across BC. The ideal sample size per site is 20 or more turtles. These samples are used in a population genetic study at the University of British Columbia Okanagan to examine population structure of Western Painted Turtles in BC.
The specific goals of this project are:
• to determine the genetic relatedness among Western Painted Turtles in BC to determine their status as conservation units,
• to determine origin and relatedness at the site level for the Pacific Coastal populations,
• to determine whether genetic introgression from other non-native subspecies of Painted Turtle is a threat to Western Painted Turtle genetic diversity
In her Master of Science thesis, Evelyn Jensen (2013) reported results of the population structure of BC turtles based on the collection of genetic samples from 605 turtles. She found evidence of six discrete units of Western Painted Turtles in British Columbia: Sunshine Coast; Sunshine coast-Gulf Island-Mid-Vancouver Island; south coast (southern Vancouver Island and Lower Mainland); Cariboo; Thompson-Okanagan; and Kootenay. While the turtles have been in BC for a relatively short time, in evolutionary terms, ~12,000 years or 700 generations since the retreat of Pleistocene glaciations, considerable differentiation has occurred among populations in different areas of the province.
Jensen, E.L. 2013. Genetic assessment of taxonomic uncertainty and conservation units in Painted Turtles, with a focus on the at-risk Chrysemys picta bellii in British Columbia. M.Sc. thesis. University of British Columbia Okanagan, Kelowna, British Columbia.