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Title: Genetic diversity and population genetic structure of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in the Scottish mainland, inferred by microsatellite markers and mitochondrial DNA control region sequences
Author: Pérez-Espona, Silvia
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 2006
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Despite the relatively small scale of the study area and the high dispersal capabilities of red deer, red deer on the Scottish mainland presented high levels of genetic diversity and significant population structure for both genetic markers, microsatellites (FST= 0.019; GST’ = 014) and mtDNA control region sequences (ΦST = 0.3483). The landscape genetics approach indicated that landscape features play an important role in contemporary gene flow of red deer on the mainland, with sea lochs, roads, mountain slopes and forests located along the Great Glen being responsible for most of the genetic differentiation in the study area. Sex-biased dispersal analyses, conducted using both genetic markers (microsatellites and mtDNA), revealed that male-biased dispersal was weak in the study area with male movements probably being predominant at a local scale (between neighbouring estates). In contrast, rarer long distance dispersal events which are more likely to be linked with colonisation of new areas were suggested to be predominantly female-biased. In terms of management, results from this study suggest that past management practices have not strongly affected the genetic integrity, genetic diversity and population genetic structure of red deer on the Scottish mainland. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that none of the red deer individuals included in this study presented a mtDNA haplotype from foreign deer despite the numerous introductions of foreign species of deer in the Scottish mainland such as wapiti (Cervus canadensis) or sika deer (Cervus nippon). Furthermore, only few localised individuals were found to have potentially descended from translocation events. Results from this study also support the continuation of current policies for the management of red deer man-made landscape features and to avoid further divisions of the group as the might not represent natural boundaries of populations.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available