Strong population structure in a species manipulated by humans since the Neolithic: the European fallow deer (Dama dama dama)

Baker K. H. , Gray H. W. I. , Ramovs V., Mertzanidou D., AKIN PEKŞEN Ç., BİLGİN C. C. , ...More

HEREDITY, vol.119, no.1, pp.16-26, 2017 (Journal Indexed in SCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 119 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2017
  • Doi Number: 10.1038/hdy.2017.11
  • Title of Journal : HEREDITY
  • Page Numbers: pp.16-26


Species that have been translocated and otherwise manipulated by humans may show patterns of population structure that reflect those interactions. At the same time, natural processes shape populations, including behavioural characteristics like dispersal potential and breeding system. In Europe, a key factor is the geography and history of climate change through the Pleistocene. During glacial maxima throughout that period, species in Europe with temperate distributions were forced south, becoming distributed among the isolated peninsulas represented by Anatolia, Italy and Iberia. Understanding modern patterns of diversity depends on understanding these historical population dynamics. Traditionally, European fallow deer (Dama dama dama) are thought to have been restricted to refugia in Anatolia and possibly Sicily and the Balkans. However, the distribution of this species was also greatly influenced by human-mediated translocations. We focus on fallow deer to better understand the relative influence of these natural and anthropogenic processes. We compared modern fallow deer putative populations across a broad geographic range using microsatellite and mitochondrial DNA loci. The results revealed highly insular populations, depauperate of genetic variation and significantly differentiated from each other. This is consistent with the expectations of drift acting on populations founded by small numbers of individuals, and reflects known founder populations in the north. However, there was also evidence for differentiation among (but not within) physically isolated regions in the south, including Iberia. In those regions we find evidence for a stronger influence from natural processes than may be expected for a species with such strong, known anthropogenic influence.