Plant Systematics and Evolution

, Volume 242, Issue 1–4, pp 49–61 | Cite as

A comparative study of allozyme variation of peripheral and central populations of Silene nutans L. (Caryophyllaceae) from Western Europe: implications for conservation



In Belgium, at the western border of its continental distribution range, the perennial herb S. nutans has evolved two parapatric ecotypes (calcicolous or silicicolous), which show contrasted allozyme, morphological and adaptive patterns, and isolating reproductive barriers. We examined allozyme variation in 21 populations close to Belgium (from France and Luxemburg) in relation to their peripheral or central geographical position, and investigated their genetic relationships with the Belgian ecotypes. Both peripheral and central populations showed high genetic variation. They were differentiated from each other, but not in relation to the substrate (calcareous or siliceous). The peripheral and central populations were related to the Belgian silicicolous and calcicolous ecotype, respectively. This suggests an ancient differentiation and different past histories for the Belgian ecotypes, and parapatric speciation processes. This study exemplifies the high evolutionary potential of populations at range peripheries and the need for considering them in conservation strategies.


Allozymes Nottingham catchfly parapatric speciation phylogeography population size range periphery Silene nutans 


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. Van Rossum
    • 1
    • 2
  • X. Vekemans
    • 1
    • 2
  • E. Gratia
    • 1
  • P. Meerts
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Génétique et Ecologie végétalesUniversité Libre de BruxellesBrusselsBelgium
  2. 2.Laboratoire de Génétique et Evolution des Populations Végétales, UMR CNRS 8016Université des Sciences et Technologies de LilleVilleneuve d’Ascq CedexFrance

Personalised recommendations