Alpine Botany

, Volume 122, Issue 1, pp 23–34

High genetic differentiation in populations of the rare alpine plant species Campanulathyrsoides on a small mountain


    • Institute of BotanyUniversity of Basel
  • J. F. Scheepens
    • Institute of BotanyUniversity of Basel
  • Jürg Stöcklin
    • Institute of BotanyUniversity of Basel
Original Article

DOI: 10.1007/s00035-012-0103-2

Cite this article as:
Frei, E.S., Scheepens, J.F. & Stöcklin, J. Alp Botany (2012) 122: 23. doi:10.1007/s00035-012-0103-2


Changes in climate and traditional land use have contributed to a loss and fragmentation of suitable habitats for many alpine plant species. Despite the importance of these changes, our knowledge of the consequences for gene flow and genetic diversity is still poor, especially in rare taxa and at fine spatial scales. Here, we investigated the genetic diversity in a rare alpine plant on a small and highly structured mountain in the Swiss Alps. Using microsatellite markers and Bayesian cluster analyses, we investigated genetic diversity within and among 24 populations of Campanula thyrsoides L. We also tested whether landscape structure has affected genetic structure by correlating genetic diversity with landscape and population features, which were assessed in a four-year monitoring period. The recorded genetic diversity (He = 0.714) and genetic differentiation (\(G^{\prime}_{\rm ST} \) = 0.32) at distances of 1–10 km were remarkably high. Clustering analyses revealed a split of populations into two genetically different spatial groups, but between-population genetic distances were neither correlated to geographic distance, elevation nor slope. The high differentiation and genetic bottlenecks may indicate strong founder effects, although the number of alleles was not decreased in bottlenecked populations. We conclude that stochastic colonisation by seeds is most important for shaping the genetic structure of C.thyrsoides on this small mountain. The high genetic diversity even in small populations may indicate that occasional gene flow is strong enough to overcome negative effects of bottlenecks. Nevertheless, further fragmentation and isolation of habitats may threaten this rare plant in the future.


Campanula thyrsoidesEuropean AlpsGenetic bottlenecksIsolation by distanceLandscape geneticsMicrosatellite markers

Supplementary material

35_2012_103_MOESM1_ESM.doc (187 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 187 kb)
35_2012_103_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (252 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 251 kb)

Copyright information

© Swiss Botanical Society 2012