Diversity of North American map and sawback turtles
Map turtles of the genus Graptemys are native to North America, where a high degree of drainage endemism is believed to have shaped current diversity. With 14 species and one additional subspecies, Graptemys represents the most diverse genus in the family Emydidae. While some Graptemys species are characterized by pronounced morphological differences, previous phylogenetic analyses have failed yet to confirm significant levels of genetic divergence for many taxa. As a consequence, it has been debated whether Graptemys is taxonomically inflated or whether the low genetic divergence observed reflects recent radiations or ancient hybridization. In this study, we analysed three mtDNA blocks (3228 bp) as well as 12 nuclear loci (7844 bp) of 89 specimens covering all species and subspecies of Graptemys. Our analyses of the concatenated mtDNA sequences reveal that the widespread G. geographica constitutes the sister taxon of all other Graptemys species. These correspond to two clades, one comprised of all broad-headed Graptemys species and another clade containing the narrow-headed species. Most species of the broad-headed clade are reciprocally monophyletic, except for G. gibbonsi and G. pearlensis, which are not differentiated. By contrast, in the narrow-headed clade, many currently recognized species are not monophyletic and divergence is significantly less pronounced. Haplotype networks of phased nuclear loci show low genetic divergence among taxa and many shared haplotypes. Principal component analyses using coded phased nuclear DNA sequences revealed eight distinct clusters within Graptemys that partially conflict with the terminal mtDNA clades. This might be explained by male-mediated gene flow across drainage basins and female philopatry within drainage basins. Our results support that Graptemys is taxonomically oversplit and needs to be revised.