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Population Genetics and Ecological Niche Modelling Reveal High Fragmentation and Potential Future Extinction of the Endangered Relict Butterfly Lycaena helle

Jan C. Habel, Bettina Augenstein, Marc Meyer, Gabriel Neve, Dennis Rödder, and Thorsten Assmann

Abstract During the post-glacial warming, cold-adapted species shifted their distribution to higher latitudes and altitudes and became widely extinct over the European lowlands. The butterfly Lycaena helle shows this feature, and is currently distributed in highly isolated habitat remnants restricted to higher elevations over Central Europe. We analysed five polymorphic microsatellite loci and applied Climate Envelope Modelling. We detected strong genetic differentiation coinciding with the orographic structures of seven distinct mountain regions. This picture become underlined by deflecting levels of genetic diversity and the presence of private alleles, endemic for each single mountain area. Furthermore, genetic differentiation among populations within these mountain groups were detectable and reveal interrupted geneflow on a regional level. This genetic picture of a fragmented distribution coincides with the obtained pattern of potential suitable habitats given by a Climate Envelope Model. A scenario of further climate warming predicts a loss of the major parts of these areas and rising fragmentation of the remainings. The predicted extinction of some populations will cause the loss of unique alleles, which are recently restricted to the given populations.

Musée national d'histoire naturelle Luxembourg, Section Zoologie des Invertébrés, 25, rue Münster, L-2160 Luxembourg, Luxembourg e-mail: [email protected]

Department of Biogeography, Trier University, D-54256 Trier, Germany G. Nève

Institut Méditerranéen d'Ecologie et Paléoécologie, UMR CNRS 6116, Case 36, Université de Provence, 3 Place Victor Hugo, F-13331 Marseille Cedex 3, France

Department of Herpetology, Zoologisches Forschungsmuseum Alexander Koenig, D-53113 Bonn, Germany

T. Assmann

Institute of Ecology and Environmental Chemistry, Leuphana University Lüneburg, D-21335 Lüneburg, Germany

J.C. Habel and T. Assmann (eds.), Relict Species: Phylogeography and Conservation Biology, 417 DOI 10.1007/978-3-540-92160-8_25, © Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2010

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