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In 1906, Lönnberg identified a native subspecies of Red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus L., in Britain after examining a sample of stags' skulls from Glenquoich (Inverness-shire, Scotland). In north-west England, it is commonly believed that “Red deer of indigenous stock have persisted in this area (Furness Fells, Lancashire, England) from time immemorial…” (Chard, 1966). Arrangements were made to introduce animals into a park within this area in 1970, which, in view of this local opinion, would have been the only Red deer within the district not of native origin. Therefore, it was thought desirable to examine all the stocks of wild or feral Red deer in Britain and to determine which, if any, of them could be considered native and thus deserving of special measures to ensure their survival.

After examining samples of skulls, using multivariate analysis, it appeared that, within the limits of the material representing the various subspecies of the world, there was little support for the concept of subspeciation in Red deer. In Great Britain, however, there appeared to be two distinct forms of Red deer leading a free existence, one presumed to be native and the other to be of park derivation. Visually, the differences were indetectable and could be demonstrated only by discriminant analyses.