Assessing the origin, genetic structure and demographic history of the common pheasant (Phasianus colchicus) in the introduced European range

Sci Rep. 2021 Nov 5;11(1):21721. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-00567-1.


The common pheasant, a game species widely introduced throughout the world, can be considered as an ideal model to study the effects of introduction events on local adaptations, biogeographic patterns, and genetic divergence processes. We aimed to assess the origin, spatial patterns of genetic variation, and demographic history of the introduced populations in the contact zone of Central and Southeast Europe, using mitochondrial DNA control region sequences and microsatellite loci. Both types of molecular markers indicated relatively low to moderate levels of genetic variation. The mtDNA analyses revealed that common pheasants across the study area are divided into two distinct clades: B (mongolicus group) and F (colchicus group). Analyses of the microsatellite data consistently suggested a differentiation between Hungary and Serbia, with the pheasant population in Hungary being much more genetically homogeneous, while that of Serbia has much more genetic mixture and admixture. This cryptic differentiation was not detected using a non-spatial Bayesian clustering model. The analyses also provided strong evidence for a recent population expansion. This fundamental information is essential for adequate and effective conservation management of populations of a game species of great economic and ecological importance in the studied geographical region.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animal Distribution
  • Animals
  • Europe
  • Founder Effect
  • Galliformes / genetics*
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Introduced Species*
  • Phylogeography