High genetic differentiation among French populations of the Orsini's viper (Vipera ursinii ursinii) based on mitochondrial and microsatellite data: implications for conservation management
Ferchaud, A.-L.; Lyet, A.; Cheylan, M.; Arnal, V.ér.; Baron, J.-P.; Montgelard, C.; Ursenbacher, S.
Journal of Heredity 102(1): 67-78
ISSN/ISBN: 1465-7333 PMID: 20841316 DOI: 10.1093/jhered/esq098
The Orsini's viper (Vipera ursinii) is one of the most threatened snakes in Europe due to its highly fragmented distribution and specific open environment (steppic habitat) requirement. French populations are isolated on top of mountain massifs of the southern Prealps/Alps. Mitochondrial sequences (cytochrome b) and 6 microsatellite loci have been used to estimate the levels of genetic diversity and isolation within and among 11 French fragmented populations (a total of 157 individuals). Eleven cytochrome b haplotypes with a limited divergence were observed (mean divergence between haplotypes: 0.31%). However, we detected considerable genetic differentiation among populations (global F(ST) = 0.76 and 0.26 for mitochondrial and nuclear DNA, respectively). Results indicate that 3 populations possibly went through a bottleneck and 1 population showed low genetic diversity compared with the others. Although a significant isolation by distance was detected for both markers, strong differentiation was also observed between geographically close populations, probably due to the ragged landscape that constitutes a serious barrier to gene flow owing to the limited dispersal capability of the viper. Despite some discrepancies between the 2 markers, 8 Management Units have been identified and should be considered for future management projects.