Folia Geobotanica

, Volume 41, Issue 1, pp 3–20 | Cite as

Influence of geographical isolation on genetic diversity ofHimantoglossum hircinum (Orchidaceae)

  • Marion PfeiferEmail author
  • Gottfried Jetschke


Many plants live in habitats that are becoming increasingly rare and fragmented due to human disturbance. Studies of genetic diversity are necessary for understanding and evaluating the impact of habitat fragmentation, and land-use change on the dynamics of rare species to help in setting priorities for their management. We used AFLP markers to study variation in genetic structure within and among three border populations of the orchidHimantoglossum hircinum. Study sites were located in central Germany, which represents the north-eastern border of distribution, and they were separated from each other by a maximum distance of 10 km. Landscape between the populations was characterized by man-made habitat features including agricultural fields, major roads and settlements. We compared pairs of populations to evaluate genetic variation, genetic differentiation, and the current level of gene flow between them. Genetic diversity was high within the populations and higher within than between the populations. Population genetic differentiation was relatively high compared to other orchid species (G st=0.20). Gene flow between pairs of the populations varied and appeared to be influenced by landscape characteristics separating the localities. Recommendations for conservation ofH. hircinum are provided. Management activities should concentrate on maintenance or enlargement of habitat size to prevent loss of genetic diversity due to genetic drift. Sites are genetically relatively isolated, but using stepping stones to improve gene exchange would be problematic because of the intense land-use in the area.


AMOVA Calcareous grassland Genetic differentiation Habitat fragmentation Mediterranean distribution 


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© Institute of Botany, Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of EcologyUniversity of JenaJenaGermany

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