The Journal of heredity

Admixture of Eastern and Western European Red Deer Lineages as a Result of Postglacial Recolonization of the Czech Republic (Central Europe).

PMID 25918430


Due to a restriction of the distributional range of European red deer (Cervus elaphus L.) during the Quaternary and subsequent recolonization of Europe from different refugia, a clear phylogeographical pattern in genetic structure has been revealed using mitochondrial DNA markers. In Central Europe, 2 distinct, eastern and western, lineages of European red deer are present; however, admixture between them has not yet been studied in detail. We used mitochondrial DNA (control region and cytochrome b gene) sequences and 22 microsatellite loci from 522 individuals to investigate the genetic diversity of red deer in what might be expected to be an intermediate zone. We discovered a high number of unique mtDNA haplotypes belonging to each lineage and high levels of genetic diversity (cyt b H = 0.867, D-loop H = 0.914). The same structuring of red deer populations was also revealed by microsatellite analysis, with results from both analyses thus suggesting a suture zone between the 2 lineages. Despite the fact that postglacial recolonization of Central Europe by red deer occurred more than 10000 years ago, the degree of admixture between the 2 lineages is relatively small, with only 10.8% admixed individuals detected. Direct translocations of animals by humans have slightly blurred the pattern in this region; however, this blurring was more apparent when using maternally inherited markers than nuclear markers.