Variogram Analysis of the Spatial Genetic Structure of Continuous Populations Using Multilocus Microsatellite Data Academic Article uri icon


  • A geostatistical perspective on spatial genetic structure may explain methodological issues of quantifying spatial genetic structure and suggest new approaches to addressing them. We use a variogram approach to (i) derive a spatial partitioning of molecular variance, gene diversity, and genotypic diversity for microsatellite data under the infinite allele model (IAM) and the stepwise mutation model (SMM), (ii) develop a weighting of sampling units to reflect ploidy levels or multiple sampling of genets, and (iii) show how variograms summarize the spatial genetic structure within a population under isolation-by-distance. The methods are illustrated with data from a population of the epiphytic lichen Lobaria pulmonaria, using six microsatellite markers. Variogram-based analysis not only avoids bias due to the underestimation of population variance in the presence of spatial autocorrelation, but also provides estimates of population genetic diversity and the degree and extent of spatial genetic structure accounting for autocorrelation.


  • Wagner, Helene H
  • Holderegger, Rolf
  • Werth, Silke
  • Gugerli, Felix
  • Hoebee, Susan E
  • Scheidegger, Christoph

publication date

  • March 2005