Dispersal and gene flow between isolated populations

Bruno Baur , Sylvain Ursenbacher, Barbara Meister, Silvia Geser, Cline Geiser, Jean-Pierre Vacher

The dispersal of animals, pollen or seed connects subpopulations to a metapopulation und thus reduces the risk of extinction of small populations. We study - using a variety of approaches - how different habitats and man made structures (e.g. streets) influence the dispersal behaviour of animals, particularly of reptiles (asp viper and grass snake, picture), various arthropods and gastropods.
In an ongoing study, molecular methods are used to assess the permeability of different types of landscape for the grass snake. The permeability determines whether or not and to which extent gene flow between extant populations occurs. The regions examined are an intensively used farming area (Grosses Moos), a floodplain (Aaretal Thun-Bern) and a valley in the Alps (Gadmental). The findings of this study might assist to define the priority of populations for conservation measures.

Keywords: barrier - isolation - habitat quality - molecular techniques - roads

Selected publications

Zwahlen V, Nanni-Geser S, Golay J, Kaiser L, Dubey S & Ursenbacher S (2021) — Only males care about their environment: sex-biased dispersal in the asp viper (Vipera aspis) — Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 132: 104–115

Vrs J, Ursenbacher S, Kiss I, Jelic D, Schweiger S & Szab K (2017) — Increased genetic structuring of isolated Salamandra salamandra populations (Caudata: Salamandridae) at the margins of the Carpathian Mountains — Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 55: 138–149

Kindler C, Chvre M, Ursenbacher S, Bhme W, Hille A, Jablonski D, Vamberger M & Fritz U (2017) — Hybridization patterns in two contact zones of grass snakes reveal a new Central European snake species — Scientific Reports 7: 7378

Meister B, Ursenbacher S & Baur B (2012) — Frequency of multiple paternity in the grass snake (Natrix natrix) — Amphibia-Reptilia 33: 308–312

Meister B, Ursenbacher S & Baur B (2012) — Grass snake population differentiation over different geographic scales — Herpetologica 68: 134–145

Meister B, Hofer U, Ursenbacher S & Baur B (2010) — Spatial genetic analysis of the grass snake, Natrix natrix (Squamata: Colubridae), in an intensively used agricultural landscape — Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 101: 51–58

Dubey S, Ursenbacher S, Pellet J & Fumagalli L (2009) — Genetic differentiation in two European tree frog (Hyla arborea) metapopulations in contrasted landscapes of western Switzerland — Amphibia-Reptilia 30: 127–133

Ursenbacher S, Erny C & Fumagalli L (2009) — Male reproductive success and multiple paternity in wild, low density populations of the adder (Vipera berus) — Journal of Heredity 100: 365–370

Ursenbacher S, Monney J-C & Fumagalli L (2009) — Limited genetic diversity and high differentiation among the remnant adder (Vipera berus) populations in the Swiss and French Jura Mountains — Conservation Genetics 10: 303–315


List of all publications related to this project


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