Spatial genetic structure in a metapopulation of the land snail Cepaea nemoralis (Gastropoda: Helicidae)

Authors

  • O. SCHWEIGER,

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    1. UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, D−06120, Halle, Germany
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  • M. FRENZEL,

    1. UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, D−06120, Halle, Germany
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  • W. DURKA

    1. UFZ — Centre for Environmental Research Leipzig-Halle, Department of Community Ecology, Theodor-Lieser-Strasse 4, D−06120, Halle, Germany
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Oliver Schweiger, UFZ, Fax: +49 3455585329; E-mail: oliver.schweiger@ufz.de

Abstract

Habitat fragmentation is a major force affecting demography and genetic structure of wild populations, especially in agricultural landscapes. The land snail Cepaea nemoralis (L.) was selected to investigate the impact of habitat fragmentation on the spatial genetic structure of an organism with limited dispersal ability. Genetic and morphological patterns were investigated at a local scale of a 500 m transect and a mesoscale of 4 × 4 km in a fragmented agricultural landscape while accounting for variation in the landscape using least-cost models. Analysis of microsatellite loci using expected heterozygosity (HE), pairwise genetic distance (FST/1 − FST) and spatial autocorrelograms (Moran's I) as well as shell characteristics revealed spatial structuring at both scales and provided evidence for a metapopulation structure. Genetic diversity was related to morphological diversity regardless of landscape properties. This pointed to bottlenecks caused by founder effects after (re)colonization. Our study suggests that metapopulation structure depended on both landscape features and the shape of the dispersal function. A range of genetic spatial autocorrelation up to 80 m at the local scale and up to 800 m at the mesoscale indicated leptokurtic dispersal patterns. The metapopulation dynamics of C. nemoralis resulted in a patchwork of interconnected, spatially structured subpopulations. They were shaped by gene flow which was affected by landscape features, the dispersal function and an increasing role of genetic drift with distance.

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