Pūraitė Irma, Algimantas Paulauskas


The sika deer (Cervus nippon) are considered to be an invasive species in Europe. The main problem that the European free-living sika deer pose is damage they do to forests as well as hybridisation with the local red deer. The aim of this study was to analyse the genetic diversity of the sika deer and the red deer in Lithuania, and to determine the hybridization, which might be present in red deer population from the past release of sika deer into the nature.

Tissue samples were collected from 30 sika deer individuals from enclosures, and 33 wild-living red deer. Samples were genotyped using seven microsatellite (STR) loci; genetic diversity indices were calculated and individuals were classified using Principal Coordinate Analysis (PCoA); the genetic structure of sika deer and red deer was investigated according to Bayesian clustering method using STRUCTURE software.

The STR loci were highly polymorphic with up to 17 alleles per locus, and with an average heterozygosity Ho=0.695 and Ho=0.626 for sika deer and red deer respectively. Overall inbreeding coefficient (FIS) values are 0.004 and 0.127 in sika and red deer respectively. According to the PCoA sika deer samples differ from those of red deer; however, few red deer individuals mix with sika deer. These animals were attributed to red deer according to their phenotype; however according to their genotype they are closer to sika deer.

Thus, it can be concluded that wild red deer in Lithuania may hybridise with sika deer. 


Cervus elaphus, Cervus nippon, genetic diversity, microsatellites, the red deer, the sika deer

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