Conservation Genetics

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 555–563 | Cite as

Small edge populations at risk: genetic diversity of the green lizard (Lacerta viridis viridis) in Germany and implications for conservation management

  • Manja U. BöhmeEmail author
  • Norbert Schneeweiß
  • Uwe Fritz
  • Martin Schlegel
  • Thomas U. Berendonk
Original Paper


Edge and central populations can show great differences regarding their genetic variation and thereby also in their probability of extinction. This fact might be of great importance for the conservation strategies of endangered species. In this study we examine the level of microsatellite variability within three threatened edge populations of the green lizard subspecies Lacerta viridis viridis (Laur.) in Brandenburg (Germany) and compare the observed variation to other edge and central populations within the northern species range. We demonstrate that the northernmost edge populations contain less genetic variation in comparison to the central population. However, there were no observable significant differences to the other edge population included in this study. Surprisingly, we observed a high genetic differentiation in a small geographical range between the three endangered populations in Brandenburg, which can be explained by processes like fragmentation, isolation, genetic drift and small individual numbers within these populations. We also detected unique genetic variants (alleles), which only occurred in these populations, despite a low overall genetic variation. This study demonstrates the potential of fast evolving markers assessing the genetic status of endangered populations with a high resolution. It also illustrates the need for a comparative analysis of different regions within the species range, achieving a more exact interpretation of the genetic variation in endangered populations. This will aid future management decisions in the conservation of genetic diversity in threatened species.


Genetic variation Microsatellites Isolated population Lacerta viridis 



We are very grateful to M. Stein for his extraordinary help and cooperation in the field. We thank the Naturschutzstation Rhinluch (Landesumweltamt Brandenburg) for the cooperation within the project and for the help with the required permit. We also thank the ministry of Agriculture, Environmental protection and Regional planning for the permit to study the endangered population in Brandenburg. Furthermore we thank J. Moravec and J. Vörös for their help regarding the Czech and Hungarian samples. We thank K. Lampert and the two anonymous reviewers for the helpful comments on the manuscript and A.D. Sommerfeldt for improving the language of a previous draft. This study was supported by the Heinz Sielmann Stiftung and the work of Manja Böhme was supported by the Evangelische Studienwerk Villigst e.V.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  • Manja U. Böhme
    • 1
    Email author
  • Norbert Schneeweiß
    • 2
  • Uwe Fritz
    • 3
  • Martin Schlegel
    • 1
  • Thomas U. Berendonk
    • 1
  1. 1.University of Leipzig, Biology II, Molecular Evolution and Animal SystematicsLeipzigGermany
  2. 2.Landesumweltamt Brandenburg, Naturschutzstation RhinluchLinumGermany
  3. 3.Museum of Zoology, Natural History State Collections DresdenDresdenGermany

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