, Volume 15, Issue 6, pp 787-797,
Open Access This content is freely available online to anyone, anywhere at any time.
Date: 23 Jan 2011

Conservation genetics of xerothermic beetles in Europe: the case of Centricnemus leucogrammus


Xerothermic habitats are closely related to continental steppes of Eurasia and contain communities rich in rare and endemic species, especially insects. Considering the dramatic loss of xerothermic habitats due to climatic and anthropogenic changes the evaluation of genetic variation and phylogeographical patterns in xerothermic species is a matter of utmost importance if appropriate conservation measures are to be undertaken. In this paper 3 mitochondrial genes and 3 nuclear markers were used for evaluation of genetic diversity of populations of the weevil Centricnemus leucogrammus from central-east Europe. These data were used for the recognition of conservation units as well as centers of genetic diversity which could be considered as present “warm-stage” refugia for xerothermic beetle assemblages. The most diverse are eastern and central populations from Ukraine and central Poland, however, also isolated groups of populations from the Pannonian Basin and northern Poland possessed a unique genetic signature. This lead to the conclusion that all three regional groups of populations are significantly isolated from each other and represent distinct evolutionary lineages so they should be considered as separate Management Units and Evolutionary Significant Units. C. leucogrammus can be regarded as an excellent representative for typically xerothermophilous, flightless beetles and knowledge about its genetic diversity may be used for the conservation and management of entire xerothermic communities, especially for those with low mobility invertebrate taxa. Further research on the genetic diversity of various organisms with varying levels of mobility should be undertaken to broaden our knowledge on the conservations needs of xerothermic assemblages.