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Investigating temporal changes in hybridization and introgression in a predominantly bimodal hybridizing population of invasive sika (Cervus nippon) and native red deer (C. elaphus) on the Kintyre Peninsula, Scotland


Helen V. Senn, Fax: +44 131 6564; E-mail:


We investigated temporal changes in hybridization and introgression between native red deer (Cervus elaphus) and invasive Japanese sika (Cervus nippon) on the Kintyre Peninsula, Scotland, over 15 years, through analysis of 1513 samples of deer at 20 microsatellite loci and a mtDNA marker. We found no evidence that either the proportion of recent hybrids, or the levels of introgression had changed over the study period. Nevertheless, in one population where the two species have been in contact since ∼1970, 44% of individuals sampled during the study were hybrids. This suggests that hybridization between these species can proceed fairly rapidly. By analysing the number of alleles that have introgressed from polymorphic red deer into the genetically homogenous sika population, we reconstructed the haplotypes of red deer alleles introduced by backcrossing. Five separate hybridization events could account for all the recently hybridized sika-like individuals found across a large section of the Peninsula. Although we demonstrate that low rates of F1 hybridization can lead to substantial introgression, the progress of hybridization and introgression appears to be unpredictable over the short timescales.