Evolution of population genetic structure of the British roe deer by natural and anthropogenic processes (Capreolus capreolus)



A. Rus Hoelzel, School of Biological and Biomedical Sciences, Durham University, South Road, Durham, DH1 3LE, UK.

Tel: +0191-334-1325;

Fax: +0191-334-2001;

E-mail: a.r.hoelzel@dur.ac.uk


Human influence typically impacts on natural populations of conservation interest. These interactions are varied and sometimes complex, and may be negative and unintended or associated with conservation and management strategy. Understanding the details of how these interactions influence and are influenced by natural evolutionary processes is essential to the development of effective conservation strategies. In this study, we investigate a species in Britain that has experienced both negative impact through overhunting in historical times and management efforts through culls and translocations. At the same time, there are regional populations that have been less affected by human influence. We use mtDNA and nuclear microsatellite DNA markers to investigate patterns of connectivity and diversity and find multiple insular populations in Britain that probably evolved within the Holocene (when the habitat was free of ice). We identify three concurrent processes. First, surviving indigenous populations show highly provincial patterns of philopatry, maintaining and generating population structure on a small geographic scale. Second, founder populations into habitat extirpated of native populations have expanded, but remained largely insular. Third, introductions into established populations generate some admixture. We discuss the implications for the evolution of diversity of the integration of natural processes with anthropogenic influences on population size and distribution.