The biochemical systematics of red and sika deer (genus Cervus) in Ireland

Hereditas. 1991;115(3):267-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1601-5223.1992.tb00569.x.


Twenty enzyme loci were investigated using starch gel electrophoresis in managed populations of red deer (Cervus elaphus) and sika deer (C. nippon) from Ireland. The red deer, which originated from several European countries, were polymorphic (%P) at 25% of the loci examined and exhibited a mean heterozygosity (H) of 0.025. The sika, originally from Japan, were introduced to Ireland in very limited numbers. Here, %P was 5% and H was 0.006. Mean genetic distance (D) between these taxa was 0.160. Because Scottish red deer, the source of much of the Irish herd, had previously been investigated for 16 of the same enzyme loci, it was possible to merge the present data with results from that earlier study, which also included North American wapiti (C. elaphus canadensis). The resulting phenogram based on genetic distance demonstrates that sika are twice as distantly related to red deer and wapiti, than the latter are to each other and suggests that sika-like forms are ancestral. Also, the demonstration of absolute mobility differences in the products of two enzyme loci in red deer and sika has many practical applications.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chromosome Mapping
  • Deer / genetics*
  • Ireland
  • Isoenzymes / genetics*
  • Phylogeny
  • Polymorphism, Genetic
  • Species Specificity


  • Isoenzymes