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Population genetics and geometric morphometrics of the freshwater snail Segmentina nitida reveal cryptic sympatric species of conservation value in Europe

Hobbs, C. S., Vega, R., Rahman, F. , Horsburgh, G. J., Dawson, D. A. & Harvey, C. D. (2021). Population genetics and geometric morphometrics of the freshwater snail Segmentina nitida reveal cryptic sympatric species of conservation value in Europe. Conservation Genetics, 22(6), pp. 855-871. doi: 10.1007/s10592-021-01369-8


Segmentina nitida Müller 1774 is a rare European freshwater snail of drainage ditches and marshland, which has seen a marked decrease in range (~ 80%) over the last 100 years in the UK. This has been attributed to over-dredging of drainage ditches for land management, conversion of grazing marshes to arable farmland, as well as eutrophication. Segmentina nitida is identified as a priority species in the UK Biodiversity Action Plan (UKBAP) that recommends further research to inform reintroduction and translocation for its conservation. We used nuclear markers (microsatellites and ITS2) and a mitochondrial (COI) marker to investigate population structure in S. nitida individuals sampled from Poland, Germany, Sweden, and the UK to identify differences within and between populations. Data based on 2D landmark-based geometric morphometrics of S. nitida shells was used to determine if phenotypic variation followed genetic differentiation. Two distinct genetic lineages of S. nitida were identified in ITS and COI phylogenies as well as cluster analysis of microsatellite markers, one of these lineages was present in eastern Europe (Poland, Sweden- Lineage 2), and one in western Europe (UK, Germany- Lineage 1), with lineages co-occurring in German populations. No genetic admixture was observed in German populations containing both lineages. These two lineages were also distinct in shape, with lineage 2 individuals having significantly wider shells and taller and wider apertures than those in Lineage 1. ~ 85% of shells assigned to the predicted lineage in a discriminant analysis of Procrustes shape coordinates. We infer that S. nitida includes at least one sympatric cryptic species. We discuss the implications of these findings on the conservation status of S. nitida in the UK and Europe.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. The images or other third party material in this article are included in the article's Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article's Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit
Publisher Keywords: Microsatellites, Gastropod, Segmentina, Cryptic species, Geometric morphometrics
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history > QH301 Biology
Departments: School of Science & Technology > Mathematics
SWORD Depositor:
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