European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 52, Issue 1, pp 14–22

The genus Cervus in eastern Eurasia


DOI: 10.1007/s10344-005-0011-5

Cite this article as:
Groves, C. Eur J Wildl Res (2006) 52: 14. doi:10.1007/s10344-005-0011-5


In 2004, Christian Pitra and co-workers published the first molecular phylogeny of Old World deer which advanced our understanding of the Cervinae immeasurably by demonstrating the non-monophyletic status of the red deer/wapiti group, the chital/hog deer group and the swamp deer/Eld's deer group. Therefore, many conspicuous external features—antler complexity, mane and rump-patch development—turned out to be related not to phylogeny as much as to climatic-related lifestyle factors. At a lower level, molecular genetics has reinforced some conclusions drawn on the basis of morphology or behaviour. Striking examples are the divisions between mainland and Japanese sika and between northern and southern forms of Japanese sika. In this paper, I will look at the species living in what Pitra et al. (Evolution and phylogeny of old world deer. Mol Phylogenet Evol 33:880–895, 2004) identified as the heartland of cervine evolution: eastern Eurasia. I will consider the two species groups in this region that seem to crystallize both the problems of cervine classification and the ways in which the new sources of evidence have opened up new avenues of inquiry.


DeerMolecular phylogenyMorphologySika

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Archaeology and Anthropology Building 14Australian National UniversityCanberraAustralia