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Durham University

Department of Biosciences

Profile

Publication details for Professor AR Hoelzel

Baker, K.H. & Hoelzel, A.R. (2014). Influence of Holocene environmental change and anthropogenic impact on the diversity and distribution of roe deer. Heredity 112(6): 607-615.

Author(s) from Durham

Abstract

Extant patterns of population structure and levels of diversity are a consequence of factors that vary in both space and time. Our objective in this study is to investigate a species that has responded to both natural and anthropogenic changes in ways that have shaped modern populations and provide insight into the key processes. The roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) is one of the two species of deer native to Britain. During the last glacial maximum (LGM), the British habitat was largely under ice and there was a land bridge to mainland Europe. As the Earth warmed during the early Holocene, the land bridge was lost. Subsequent hunting on the British mainland left the southern region extirpated of roe deer, whereas a refugial population remained in the north. Later reintroductions from Europe led to population expansion, especially in southern United Kingdom. Here, we combine data from ancient and modern DNA to track population dynamics and patterns of connectivity, and test hypotheses about the influence of natural and anthropogenic environmental change. We find that past expansion and divergence events coincided with a warming environment and the subsequent closure of the land bridge between Europe and the United Kingdom. We also find turnover in British roe deer haplotypes between the late-Holocene and modern day that have likely resulted from recent human disturbance activities such as habitat perturbation, overhunting and restocking.