Relationship between allozymes, heterozygosity and morphological characters in red deer (Cervus elaphus), and the influence of selective hunting on allele frequency distribution

Heredity (Edinb). 1991 Jun:66 ( Pt 3):343-50. doi: 10.1038/hdy.1991.43.


Morphological characters in red deer (Cervus elaphus), which serve as criteria for selective hunting, were examined in relation to electrophoretic variation in three populations from the Vosges in eastern France. From the polymorphic loci examined, certain alleles at Idh-2, Me-1 and Acp-1 showed significant associations with a special development of body and antler characters selected for by hunters. Idh-2(125) was associated with larger hind foot length in females and a higher number of antler points in males. Me-1(90) and Acp-1(100) were associated with small spikes. The populations studied differed from one another in the duration and intensity of selective hunting and the increase or decrease in the respective allele frequencies could be explained by selection for large body size, a high number of antler points and against small spikes in yearlings, rather than by genetic drift. Among other morphological characters examined, the length of the main beam was significantly associated with the allele Acp-2(100). In contrast, no associations could be detected between overall heterozygosity and the development or the degree of asymmetry (in paired structures) of any of the morphological traits in question. Although no obvious differences in the overall values of polymorphism or heterozygosity were found between the populations, selective hunting leads towards a change in allele frequencies and eventually to the loss of one or the other rare allele.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alleles
  • Animals
  • Deer / genetics*
  • France
  • Gene Frequency*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Heterozygote*
  • Isoenzymes / genetics*
  • Selection, Genetic*
  • Sports*


  • Isoenzymes