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Origin and patterns of genetic diversity of German fallow deer as inferred from mitochondrial DNA

Abstract

Although not native to Germany, fallow deer (Dama dama) are commonly found today, but their origin as well as the genetic structure of the founding members is still unclear. In order to address these aspects, we sequenced ~400 bp of the mitochondrial d-loop of 365 animals from 22 locations in nine German Federal States. Nine new haplotypes were detected and archived in GenBank. Our data produced evidence for a Turkish origin of the German founders. However, German fallow deer populations have complex patterns of mtDNA variation. In particular, three distinct clusters were identified: Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg/Hesse/Rhineland and Saxony/lower Saxony/Mecklenburg/Westphalia/Anhalt. Signatures of recent demographic expansions were found for the latter two. An overall pattern of reduced genetic variation was therefore accompanied by a relatively strong genetic structure, as highlighted by an overall Phict value of 0.74 (P < 0.001).

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Acknowledgements

Collection of samples and all analyses comply with the current laws in Germany. We thank Carla Pinho for proof reading. The authors thank all hunters and their organizations for undertaking sampling. Financial support was given by the Forschungsstelle für Jagdkunde und Wildschadenverhütung of the State North Rhine Westphalia.

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Correspondence to Arne Ludwig.

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Communicated by C. Gortázar

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Ludwig, A., Vernesi, C., Lieckfeldt, D. et al. Origin and patterns of genetic diversity of German fallow deer as inferred from mitochondrial DNA. Eur J Wildl Res 58, 495–501 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-011-0571-5

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  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/s10344-011-0571-5

Keywords

  • Dama
  • Founder
  • Mitochondrial DNA
  • D-loop
  • Roots