Linking Genetics and Ecology Reconstructing the History of Relict Populations of an Endangered Semi Aquatic Beetle

Andrea Matern, Claudia Drees, Alfried P. Vogler, and Thorsten Assmann

Abstract Population ecology and genetic studies are complementary approaches to address central questions of conservation biology and can provide information for the protection of biodiversity and the improvement of conservation measures which may otherwise be unattainable. This contribution highlights the benefit of combining diverse approaches for obtaining knowledge on a relict species and for implementing suitable conservation measures. We use the example of Carabus variolosus, a flightless European beetle that is listed as a Species of Community Interest in the EU Habitats and Species Directive. Ongoing investigations established the species' habitat choice, population ecology and population genetics, and yield first results from mitochondrial DNA analysis (COI). In small isolated habitat patches we found small sized populations that are genetically strongly differentiated even if adjacent. Evidence for a number of glacial refugia was found. However, all C. v. nodulosus populations studied North of the Alps share the same haplotype. We will discuss our findings in the light of the history of the species, of its taxonomic classification and of their implications for conservation.

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