European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 54, Issue 1, pp 44–52 | Cite as

Fine-scale genetic structure of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in a French temperate forest

  • Alain C. Frantz
  • Jean-Luc Hamann
  • François Klein
Original Paper


Despite the classic population genetic view of a population as a network of sub-populations consisting of randomly mating individuals, the mating system and dispersal patterns of social animals affect the distribution of genetic variation on a local scale. The spatially open, forest-dwelling red deer (Cervus elaphus) population at the Petite Pierre National Reserve in north-eastern France is culled annually, with the management aim of maximising the number of adult males in the population, and is a typical example of an exploited red deer population from continental Europe. Through a change in management policy, the number of adult males in the population has increased over time, leading to a reduction in variance of male reproductive success (Bonenfant et al., 2002). In this study, we investigate the fine-scale genetic structure of the population using 14 microsatellite loci and attempt to find evidence for a change in this genetic structure over time. DNA was extracted from bone powder obtained by drilling into antlers and mandibular condyles. DNA was successfully extracted from up to 30-year-old samples, but it was necessary to genotype samples in duplicate to obtain reliable genetic profiles. Our results point towards a pattern of fine-scale spatial structure amongst female red deer in the study area, but not amongst males, as would be expected for a typical mammalian system with male-biased dispersal and female philopatry. In addition, our results hint at a decrease in spatial genetic structure amongst females over time, which might be related to a change in management policy, but small sample size limited the robustness of this conclusion.


Antler DNA Sex-biased dispersal Spatial autocorrelation 



We would like to thank Terry Burke, Sonya Clegg, Myriam Heuertz and Lisa Pope for comments on earlier versions of this manuscript.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Alain C. Frantz
    • 1
  • Jean-Luc Hamann
    • 2
  • François Klein
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Animal and Plant SciencesUniversity of SheffieldSheffieldUK
  2. 2.Centre National d’Etudes et de Recherches Appliquées Cervidés-sanglierOffice National de la Chasse et de la Faune SauvageErstein CedexFrance

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