Conservation Genetics

, Volume 11, Issue 1, pp 11–20 | Cite as

Genetic structure in an expanding cervid population after population reduction

  • H. HaanesEmail author
  • K. H. Røed
  • Ø. Flagstad
  • O. Rosef
Research Article


The Norwegian red deer population (Cervus elaphus) was from the mid eighteenth to the early twentieth century drastically reduced in size and distribution but has the last century expanded both demographically and spatially. We have investigated genetic variation, differentiation and admixture in this spatially expanding ungulate population, using 14 microsatellites. The present genetic structure is moderate to strong with an average F ST = 0.08. Low M-ratios indicate loss of genetic variation in all localities and signals of a recent bottleneck was identified in 14 of 15 localities. Genetic distances between the localities indicate two main routes of dispersal during expansion, from the north–west and south–west, respectively. Bayesian assignment tests verify a break of the dataset in two, and demonstrate 99.9% probability for the existence of five sub-populations, which coincide well with five relict populations described by historic records. Computer simulations suggest that the observed genetic differentiation is recent rather than ancient, and that it may be explained by models of fragmentation or of founder events and subsequent merging rather than by models of recent bottlenecks in some particular demes within an ancient genetic structure.


Range expansion Genetic variation Bayesian assignment Red deer Cervus elaphus Bottleneck 



For help providing samples we thank the section for wildlife diseases at the Norwegian national veterinary intitute, Dr. Jon M. Arnemo, Harald Holm, M. Pearson, Halvor Ovastrøm, Oddegeir Hårstad, the hunters that sent us samples, and the game managers in the counties and municipalities of Norway who organised much of the sampling. For help handling samples and in the laboratory we are in debt to Turid Vikøren, Astrid Stovner and Liv Midthjell. For helpful information about the SIMCOAL algorithm and its function we thank Dr. Christian N. K. Anderson at the department of biological sciences, Stanford University.

Supplementary material

10592_2008_9781_MOESM1_ESM.doc (66 kb)
(DOC 66 kb)
10592_2008_9781_MOESM2_ESM.doc (72 kb)
(DOC 72 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • H. Haanes
    • 1
    Email author
  • K. H. Røed
    • 1
  • Ø. Flagstad
    • 2
  • O. Rosef
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Basic Sciences and Aquatic MedicineNorwegian School of Veterinary ScienceOsloNorway
  2. 2.Norwegian Institute for Nature ResearchTrondheimNorway
  3. 3.Department of Environmental and Health StudiesTelemark University CollegeBø in TelemarkNorway

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