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Genetic Diversity of Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis): Implications for Conservation

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The Chinese water deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis) is endemic to China. Historically, the species was widely distributed, but now, habitat loss and poaching have reduced its range and number drastically. In order to provide useful information for its conservation, we have investigated the genetic diversity and population structure of the Chinese water deer by analyzing the 403 bp fragment of the mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) control region (D-loop). Eighteen different haplotypes were detected in 40 samples. Overall, Chinese water deer have a relatively high-genetic diversity compared to other rare cervid species, with a haplotype diversity of 0.923±0.025 and nucleotide diversity of 1.318 ± 0.146%. No obvious phylogenetic structure among haplotypes was found for samples of different origin. An analysis of molecular variance (AMOVA) showed significant differentiation between the Zhoushan and the mainland population (FST= 0.088, P < 0.001; Φ ST = 0.075, P = 0.043), which suggests that exchanges of individuals between Zhoushan and the mainland should be avoided. We also recommend that a breeding center be set up for the mainland population.

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First, we are grateful to Prof. H. L. Sheng, who kindly provided us with useful advice and samples. We thank Ms. N. Y. Ji (Nanjing Hongshan Zoo), Mr. Hao J, Mr. Z. A. Wu (Hefei Zoo), and Mr. H. Y. Yu (Zhoushan Baiquan Chinese Water Deer Breeding Center) for their help with sample collection. We also thank Dr. H. Wu, Dr. Y. C. Xu, and Dr. B. Zhang for helping us to improve the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Sheng-Guo Fang.

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Hu, J., Fang, SG. & Wan, QH. Genetic Diversity of Chinese Water Deer (Hydropotes inermis inermis): Implications for Conservation. Biochem Genet 44, 156–167 (2006).

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