Turtles of the world

Turtles are an amazing group- distinctive, easy to wrap your head around, admired and loved by many people, and arguably the most endangered major clade of vertebrates on earth. A central project in the lab is to acquire 2-3 tissue samples of every species of turtle on earth, sequence them for ~20 independent genes, and build a phylogeny for all 320 or so species of turtles and tortoises that are living today. We have acquired the tissues, and done the sequencing and phylogenetics, for roughly 2/3 of the world’s turtle fauna, and hope to complete the project in the next year or so. We’ll use the resulting tree for projects ranging from phylogenetic prioritization for conservation biology, to studying species limits in problematic groups like US map turtles and Australian chelids, to examining the evolution of shell and skull morphology during phylogenesis.