Genetic erosion in a stenotopic heathland ground beetle (Coleoptera: Carabidae): a matter of habitat size ?

Publikation: Beiträge in ZeitschriftenZeitschriftenaufsätzeForschungbegutachtet


Two centuries ago large areas of north-west Europe were covered by coherent heathlands which hosted numerous specialized species. Changes in land use made heathlands fragmented and rare, consequently, they are in the focus of nature conservation efforts today. But how large should remaining heathland patches be in order to secure the survival of populations of specialized species? We investigated the genetic diversity at five allozyme loci of Poecilus lepidus, a flightless and stenotopic heathland ground beetle. 29 populations from differently sized heathland patches in north-west Germany were analyzed. Results show a weak but significant genetic differentiation and no evidence for isolation by distance or other patterns of spatial autocorrelation. Linear regression analysis revealed significant relationships between patch size, allelic richness, number of alleles and expected heterozygosity. These findings are explained by severe habitat fragmentation together with strong fluctuations in population size which have been reported for this species in the past. To conserve the vast majority of the species' genetic diversity for a period of 100 years we suggest to maintain heathland patches of at least 50 ha in size.
ZeitschriftConservation Genetics
Seiten (von - bis)105-117
Anzahl der Seiten13
PublikationsstatusErschienen - 01.02.2011