Conservation Genetics

, 10:303 | Cite as

Limited genetic diversity and high differentiation among the remnant adder (Vipera berus) populations in the Swiss and French Jura Mountains

  • Sylvain UrsenbacherEmail author
  • Jean-Claude Monney
  • Luca Fumagalli
Research Article


Although the adder (Vipera berus) has a large distribution area, this species is particularly threatened in Western Europe due to high habitat fragmentation and human persecution. We developed 13 new microsatellite markers in order to evaluate population structure and genetic diversity in the Swiss and French Jura Mountains, where the species is limited to only a few scattered populations. We found that V. berus exhibits a considerable genetic differentiation among populations (global FST = 0.269), even if these are not geographically isolated. Moreover, the genetic diversity within populations in the Jura Mountains and in the less perturbed Swiss Alps is significantly lower than in other French populations, possibly due to post-glacial recolonisation processes. Finally, in order to minimize losses of genetic diversities within isolated populations, suggestions for the conservation of this species in fragmented habitats are proposed.


Population genetic structure Jura Mountains Microsatellite Snake Vipera berus 



This work was funded by grants from the Swiss National Foundation (Grant Number 3100-059132.99/1 and Fellowship for prospective researchers) and the Société Académique Vaudoise. We acknowledge T. Durand, F. Paysant and G. Thiery for the sampling. Samples were taken with the permission of la Conservation de la Faune du Canton de Vaud (Switzerland), le Service de la Faune from Neuchâtel and Fribourg (Switzerland), the Préfecture du Département du Doubs (France) and the Préfecture du Département du Jura (France). Discussions with J. Goudet, J. Parker, C. E. Pook, P. Taberlet and J. Yearsley, and comments from two anonymous reviewers, greatly improved the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvain Ursenbacher
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    Email author
  • Jean-Claude Monney
    • 4
  • Luca Fumagalli
    • 1
  1. 1.Laboratoire de Biologie de la Conservation, Département d’Ecologie et Evolution, BiophoreUniversité de LausanneLausanneSwitzerland
  2. 2.School of Biological SciencesUniversity of WalesBangorUK
  3. 3.Department of Environmental Sciences, Section of Conservation BiologyUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  4. 4.Centre de Coordination pour la protection des Amphibiens et des Reptiles de Suisse (KARCH)NeuchatelSwitzerland

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