The Impact of Past Introductions on an Iconic and Economically Important Species, the Red Deer of Scotland

Silvia Perez-Espona, Richard J. Hall, F. Javier Perez-Barberia, Belinda C. Glass, Jamie F. Ward, Josephine M. Pemberton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The red deer (Cervus elaphus) is an iconic species in Scotland and, due to its value as a game species, an important element of the Scottish rural economy. The native status of this species is sometimes questioned because of many recorded introductions of nonnative deer in the past that were an attempt to improve trophy size. In this study, we assessed the impact of past introductions on the genetic makeup of Scottish red deer by genotyping at 15 microsatellite loci a large number of samples (n 1152), including mainland and island Scottish red deer and individuals from several putative external source populations used in introductions to improve trophy size. Population structure and introgression assessment analyses revealed that the impact of introductions was weak in Highland red deer populations but more prominent on the islands, especially on those where current red deer populations are mostly or entirely derived from introductions (Harris & Lewis, Arran, and Rum). Frequent imports of Central-Eastern European red deer into English deer parks were reflected in the higher genetic introgression values found in some of the individuals collected in parks.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)14-22
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Heredity
Volume104
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Keywords

  • Cervus elaphus
  • conservation
  • hybridization
  • introductions
  • introgression
  • microsatellites

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