Chelidae conservation genomics

Species delimitation and phylogeography of the Australasian Chelidae

The taxonomy of the chelid turtles of northern Australia is requires urgent attention as substantial confusion prevails and this is interfering with both science and conservation management.

Chelodina longicollis, Eastern Long-necked Turtle. Melbourne Museum. 
Photographer: David Paul, Source: Museums Victoria

We will generate SNP markers for 10 specimens from each of a comprehensive set of populations from across the ranges of each of the relevant species and putative species, to inform decisions on species delimitation. This project will leverage a wealth of existing genetic data

Outcomes will be rigorous evaluation of species boundaries and clarification of the taxonomy including evaluation of the incidence and potential impact of hybridisation and introgression between species brought together through human-mediated dispersal. We will develop tools for the research community to undertake similar work on other taxa, including using the data in support of wildlife forensics (provenance) , inclusion of sequence tag presence absence data, and rapid genotyping of whole mitochondrial genomes at a population level.

The AusARG Conservation and Taxonomy program is supporting the generation of population genetic datasets for the following identified Chelidae:

  • Myuchelys latisternum
  • Northern Emydura (australis, victoriae, worreli, subglobosa, tanybaraga)
  • Northern Snake-necked turtles (Chelodina rugosaburrungandjii, kuchlingi, parkeri)
  • Northern long-necked turtles (Chelodina longicollis, canni, mccordi, pritchardi, novaeguineae)
  • Elseya dentata group 

In addition a mitochondrial genome database for Chelidae species will be established.

Project coordinators:

  • Arthur Georges (University of Canberra)

Project collaborators:

  • Paul Doughty, Bernd Gruber, Peter Unmack, Duanne White, Matt Young, Jose (Luis) Mijangos (University of Canberra)
  • Colin Limpus, Qld NPWS
  • Jason Schaffer, James Cook University
  • Brad Shaffer, UCLA