Phylogeography of roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) populations: the effects of historical genetic subdivisions and recent nonequilibrium dynamics


Ettore Randi. Istituto Nazionale per la Fauna Selvatica, Via Cà Fornacetta 9, 40064 Ozzano Emilia (BO), Italy. Fax: + 39 051796 628; E-mail:


We sequenced 704 mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control-region nucleotides and genotyped 11 autosomal microsatellites (STR) in 617 European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) samples, aiming to infer the species’ phylogeographical structure. The mtDNA sequences were split in three distinct haplogroups, respectively, named: Clade West, sampled mainly in Iberia; Clade East, sampled mainly in Greece and in the Balkans; and Clade Central, which was widespread throughout Europe, including the eastern countries and Iberia, but not Greece. These clades might have originated in distinct Iberian and Balkanic refuges during the penultimate or the last glaciations. Clades East and West contributed little to the current postglacial mtDNA diversity in central Europe, which apparently was recolonized mainly by haplotypes belonging to Clade Central. A unique subclade within Clade Central grouped all the haplotypes sampled from populations of the Italian subspecies C. c. italicus. In contrast, haplotypes sampled in central and southern Spain joined both Clade Central and Clade West, suggesting that subspecies C. c. garganta has admixed origin. STR data support a genetic distinction of peripheral populations in north Iberia and southern Italy, and show the effects of anthropogenic disturbance in fragmented populations, which were recently reintroduced or restocked and not may be in mutation–drift equilibrium. Roe deer in central Europe are mainly admixed, while peripheral populations in north Portugal, the southern Italian Apennines and Greece represent the remains of refugial populations and should be managed accordingly.