, Volume 21, Issue 6, pp 891-899

Effect of historic landscape change on the genetic structure of the bush-cricket Metrioptera roeseli

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This study investigates the impact of past and present landscape structure on the current genetic structure of the bush-cricket Metrioptera roeseli (Orthoptera, Tettigoniidae) in a rural landscape in Germany. Assuming that land-use types, such as grassland, arable land and forest, as well as linear structures, mainly roads, differentially affect the connectivity of the bush-cricket's habitat and therefore migration and gene flow, we correlated landscape parameters between sampling locations as derived from GIS-maps with genetic similarities between individual bush-crickets as estimated by RAPD-PCR. Fifty bush-crickets were sampled with distances between sampling locations varying between 15 m and 2 km. Corresponding landscape configurations were recorded in 8 years between 1945 and 1998. Landscape configuration 50 years ago appeared to have influenced the present genetic structure of the bush-cricket (R 2 = 0.18). Crossing roads and land use other than grassland along the transect between sampling locations tended to decrease genetic similarity, whereas grassland and parallel roads tended to increase genetic similarity between bush-crickets. Following shifts in land use during 1953–1973 the correlation between landscape and present genetic structure decreased gradually. Our study suggests that it needs time for the landscape to build a visible effect on the genetic structure of the bush-cricket population, and that this effect cannot be detected if the landscape changes faster than the genetic structure responds to it.