Genetic differentiation of the tephritid fly Urophora cardui in Europe as evidence for its biogeographical history


Dr Sabine Eber Fax: +44-(0)1344-873173; E-mail:


Gaps in the large-scale distribution of the tephritid fly Urophora cardui in Europe have been explained as the results of an ongoing re-immigration from Pleistocene refugia due to a very low dispersal capacity. Following evidence of a much greater dispersal capacity of U. cardui than previously assumed, the pattern of genetic differentiation of 41 populations from 16 European regions was studied using allozyme electrophoresis. In these analyses 18 enzyme systems were scored consistently providing 27 alleles. Allozyme variation indicated high gene flow and low levels of genetic differentiation within and between sampling regions as well as in recently colonized areas. No geographical pattern of heterozygosity or allozyme differentiation could be found matching the previously suggested recent immigration pattern. An observed south-north gradient in allozyme frequencies was interpreted as a geographical cline due to environmental factors. The results corroborate evidence from more recent studies that U. cardui is a highly mobile species which is likely to have repeatedly colonized some suboptimal European regions since the Pleistocene after retreats during ‘little ice ages’. Patterns resulting from postglacial immigration processes are likely to have been long wiped out through high exchange rates.