Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 4, pp 1265–1271 | Cite as

High population differentiation in the rock-dwelling land snail (Trochulus caelatus) endemic to the Swiss Jura Mountains

  • Sylvain UrsenbacherEmail author
  • Caren Alvarez
  • Georg F. J. Armbruster
  • Bruno Baur
Research Article


Understanding patterns of genetic structure is fundamental for developing successful management programmes for isolated populations of threatened species. Trochulus caelatus is a small terrestrial snail endemic to calcareous rock cliffs in the Northwestern Swiss Jura Mountains. Eight microsatellite loci were used to assess the effect of habitat isolation on genetic population structure and gene flow among nine populations occurring on distinct cliffs. We found a high genetic differentiation among populations (mean F ST = 0.254) indicating that the populations are strongly isolated. Both allelic richness and effective population size were positively correlated with the size of the cliffs. Our findings support the hypothesis that T. caelatus survived on ice-free cliffs during the Pleistocene glacier advancements from the Alps. Due to the establishment of beech and pine forest under recent, temperate climate conditions, dispersal between cliffs is no longer possible for rock-dwelling snails such as T. caelatus. Our results provide basic data for developing a conservation action plan for this endangered gastropod species.


Helicoidea Land snails Microsatellites Population genetic structure Trochulus caelatus 



We thank Peter Stoll for statistical advice and Hans-Peter Rusterholz, Anette Baur, Paul L. Leberg and two anonymous reviewers for comments on the manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  • Sylvain Ursenbacher
    • 1
    Email author
  • Caren Alvarez
    • 1
  • Georg F. J. Armbruster
    • 1
    • 2
  • Bruno Baur
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Environmental Sciences, Section of Conservation BiologyUniversity of BaselBaselSwitzerland
  2. 2.Botanisches Institut der Universität BaselBaselSwitzerland

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