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

Research output: Contribution to journalResearch articleContributedpeer-review


  • Manja U. Böhme - , Leipzig University (Author)
  • Norbert Schneeweiß - , Naturschutzstation Rhinluch (Author)
  • Uwe Fritz - , Museum of Zoology (Author)
  • Martin Schlegel - , Leipzig University (Author)
  • Thomas U. Berendonk - , Faculty of Biology, Leipzig University (Author)


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.


Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)555-563
Number of pages9
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2007



  • Genetic variation, Isolated population, Lacerta viridis, Microsatellites