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, 33 (3), 880-95

Evolution and Phylogeny of Old World Deer

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Evolution and Phylogeny of Old World Deer

Christian Pitra et al. Mol Phylogenet Evol.

Abstract

The phylogenetic pattern and timing of the radiation of Old World deer was determined based on the complete mitochondrial cytochrome b gene from 33 Cervinae taxa. Using rooted and unrooted phylogenies derived from distinct theoretical approaches, strong support was achieved for monophyly of the Old World deer with muntjacs as sister group as well as for the divergence of at least three distinct genera: Rucervus, Dama, and Cervus. The latter clade comprises what have previously been regarded as the genera or subgenera Panolia, Rusa, Cervus, Sika, and probably Przewalskium. Our data also consistently confirmed paraphyly of nominate C. elaphus and did not support the monophyly of Axis. We used these molecular phylogenies to assess the homoplastic evolution of morphological, geographical, ecological, and selected behavioural character state differences within the Cervinae. Reliable fossil calibrations, large molecular data sets, and improved dating methods are shaping a molecular time scale for the evolutionary radiation of Old World deer that occurred at the Miocene/Pliocene transition and is largely compatible with existing palaeontological evidence. Using node ages estimated from sequence data, we estimated an average per-lineage diversification rate of 0.51+/-0.1 species per million years (my) over roughly the last 6 mya.

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