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Low diversity but high differentiation: the population genetics of Aglaope infausta (Zygaenidae: Lepidoptera)

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Abstract Aim 

Aglaope infausta is a thermophilous Zygaenid of Atlanto-Mediterranean origin, distributed in Portugal, Spain, France and north-western Italy reaching its north-eastern distribution limit in western Germany. The local, regional and inter-regional genetic structure of this species is studied in this analysis. Location and methods 

The allozymes of 456 individuals from 12 populations (11 from western Germany and one from southern Portugal) were studied by electrophoresis. Results 

Six of the 19 loci analysed were monomorphic. Genetic differentiation between populations was high (FST: 0.404), while the mean genetic diversity was low (He: 3.4%). Most (96.5%) of the genetic variance between populations was between the Portuguese and the German samples, but also the differentiation within Germany was considerable (FSR: 0.101).

In Germany, A. infausta occurs in two major regions (middle Rhine and Nahe) that are geographically separated, and 55.5% of the genetic variance was found between these two regions. The populations of both areas do not differ in their genetic diversity, but those of the middle Rhine have significantly higher genetic distances among them than the Nahe populations (0.020 and 0.015, respectively). FST was also higher in the middle Rhine region than in the Nahe region (0.089 and 0.045, respectively). Main conclusions 

Aglaope infausta shows a very low level of genetic heterogeneity for a lepidopteran species. However, this genetic poverty is not affecting the species’ viability. During the ice ages, differentiation into two genetic lineages occurred, most probably in a south-western and a south-eastern differentiation centre in Iberia. The gap in the distribution range in Germany is clearly reflected in the genetic structure. This differentiation must have developed relatively quickly because western Germany most probably was colonized during the climatic optimum 6000 years ago.

Keywords: Atlanto-Mediterranean; Chalcosiinae; allozyme electrophoresis; genetic differentiation; genetic diversity; phylogeography

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: Institut für Zoologie, Abt. V Ökologie, Universität Mainz, Saarstraße, Mainz, Germany.

Publication date: January 1, 2004


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