Origin and patterns of genetic diversity of German fallow deer as inferred from mitochondrial DNA
Although not native to Germany, fallow deer (Dama dama) are commonly found today, but their origin as well as the genetic structure of the founding members is still unclear. In order to address these aspects, we sequenced ~400 bp of the mitochondrial d-loop of 365 animals from 22 locations in nine German Federal States. Nine new haplotypes were detected and archived in GenBank. Our data produced evidence for a Turkish origin of the German founders. However, German fallow deer populations have complex patterns of mtDNA variation. In particular, three distinct clusters were identified: Schleswig-Holstein, Brandenburg/Hesse/Rhineland and Saxony/lower Saxony/Mecklenburg/Westphalia/Anhalt. Signatures of recent demographic expansions were found for the latter two. An overall pattern of reduced genetic variation was therefore accompanied by a relatively strong genetic structure, as highlighted by an overall Phict value of 0.74 (P<0.001).