Genetic variability and differentiation in red deer (Cervus elaphus) from Scotland and England


F. E. Zachos, Zoological Institute, Christian-Albrechts-University, Olshausenstrasse 40, 24118 Kiel, Germany. Tel:+49 431 8804504


Samples from 69 British red deer Cervus elaphus scoticus from seven populations in Scotland and England were analysed with respect to variability within and differentiation among stocks using 11 polymorphic microsatellite loci and 439 bp of the mitochondrial control region. The results clearly showed the effects of anthropogenic factors on British red deer. On the whole, variability values were within the species' reported range. The island population of Islay, Scotland, however, while showing average microsatellite variability, exhibited no mitochondrial variation at all. One microsatellite locus was monomorphic in three Scottish populations (Islay, Dunachton and Achnacarry). Overall and pairwise FST values indicate considerable differentiation among the populations studied, but Dunachton and Achnacarry, two adjacent populations free from recorded introductions, showed only a little differentiation and were paired in trees based on genetic distances. In terms of variability, no statistically significant differences were observed between island and mainland populations and the overall test of isolation by distance was negative. Possible reasons for the genetic patterns observed, such as differences in human impact on the populations, are discussed.