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, 31 (3), 1064-83

Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeography of Red Deer (Cervus Elaphus)

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Mitochondrial DNA Phylogeography of Red Deer (Cervus Elaphus)

Christian J Ludt et al. Mol Phylogenet Evol.

Abstract

In order to understand the origin, phylogeny, and phylogeography of the species Cervus elaphus, we examined the DNA sequence variation of the mitochondrial cytochrome b gene of 51 populations of deer from the entire distribution area of Cervinae with an emphasis on Europe and Asia. Several methods, including maximum parsimony, maximum likelihood, and nested clade analysis, revealed that red deer originated from the area between Kyrgyzstan and Northern India. We found two distinct groups of red deer: a western group consisting of four subgroups and an eastern group consisting of three subgroups. Our mtDNA data do not support the traditional classification of red deer as only one species nor its division into numerous subspecies. The discrepancies between the geographical pattern of differentiation based on mtDNA cytochrome b and the existing specific and subspecific taxonomy based on morphology are discussed.

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