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Genetical Analyses of Red and Sika Deer in Lower Austria

In the cultural landscape, the population genetic structure of Red Deer is probably strongly determined by various anthropogenic factors such as habitat fragmentation and hunting management practices. The social structure and mating system (harem species) of this species reduces the "effective population size"; and this likely increases particularly the chance of genetic depletion if populations become isolated. Based on five polymorphic isozyme and five microsatellite loci, we study the genetic diversity and population genetic structure of Red Deer in the province of Lower Austria. In this region, Red Deer is considered to be subdivided in five populations and three subpopulations. One differential-diagnostic isozyme and one microsatellite marker are used to examine possible introgression of Sika Deer genes into Red Deer and vice versa. Sika Deer was originally introduced and kept in fenced areas, ranges freely after WWII in local places within the Red Deer range of eastern Austria.. Hybrids are difficult to distinguish phenotypically from either Red Deer or Sika Deer, and backcrosses can only be recognized by molecular checks. The preliminary results on 275 specimens indicate no introgression into either species, high gene flow among Red Deer populations and particularly high allelic richness in the microsatellite markers. Generally increased inbreeding coefficients in Red Deer are attributable to its breeding structure causing low "effective population sizes".
Project leader
Arnold Walter
Type of Research
Applied research
Vetmed Research Units
Research Institute of Wildlife Ecology
Funded by
Niederösterreichischer Landesjagdverband, Wien, Austria
5 Publications

Weisz, I; Arnold, W; Suchentrunk, F (2003): Is there introgressive hybridization between autochtonous red deer, Cervus elaphus, and introduced sika deer, C. nippon, in Austria?. XXVI International IUGB Congress & Xth International Perdix Symposium, Braga, Portugal, Portugal, 01 .- 06.09.2003. XXVI International IUGB Congress & Xth International Perdix Symposium, Braga, Portugal, 01 .- 06.09.2003.

Arnold, W; Weisz, I; Suchentrunk, F (2003): Rotwild & Sikawild: Gefahr einer Bastardisierung? Österreichs Weidwerk (2003), 11 16-18.

Weisz, I; Suchentrunk, F; Arnold, W (2002): Genetische Differenzierung von Rotwildpopulationen in Niederösterreich: Kommt es zur Hybridisierung mit eingeführtem asiatischen Sikawild? Wien, FIWI, pp. 13.

Weisz, I; Arnold, W; Suchentrunk, F (2002): Population genetics of Red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Lower Austria - is there any hybridization between Sika deer (C. nippon) and Red Deer?. Mammalian Biology 67 (Suppl.): 41-42

Weisz, I (2002): Populationsgenetische Untersuchungen von Rotwild in Niederösterreich. Dissertation, Vet. Med. Univ. Wien, pp. 57.

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