Original Article

Heredity (1991) 66, 343–350; doi:10.1038/hdy.1991.43

Relationships between allozymes, heterozygosity and morphological characters in red deer (Cervus elaphus), and the influence of selective hunting on allele frequency distributions

Günther B Hartl1, Gérard Lang2, François Klein3 and Rudolf Willing1

  1. 1Forschungsinstitut für Wildtierkunde der Veterinärmedizinischen Universität Wien, Savoyenstrasse 1, A-1160, Vienna, Austria
  2. 226a, rue principale, 67240 Gries, France
  3. 3Office National de la Chasse - CNERA Cervidés Sanglievs Au Bord du Rhin, 67150 Gerstheim, France

Correspondence: Günther B Hartl, Forschungsinstitut für Wildtierkunde der Veterinärmedizinischen Universität Wien, Savoyenstrasse 1, A-1160, Vienna, Austria

Received 23 July 1990.



Morphological characters in red deer ( Cervus elaphus), which serve as criteria for selective hunting, were examined in relation to electrophoretic variation in three populations from the Vosges in eastern France. From the polymorphic loci examined, certain alleles at Idh-2, Me-1 and Acp-1 showed significant associations with a special development of body and antler characters selected for by hunters. Idh-2125 was associated with larger hind foot length in females and a higher number of antler points in males. Me-190 and Acp-1100 were associated with small spikes. The populations studied differed from one another in the duration and intensity of selective hunting and the increase or decrease in the respective allele frequencies could be explained by selection for large body size, a high number of antler points and against small spikes in yearlings, rather than by genetic drift. Among other morphological characters examined, the length of the main beam was significantly associated with the allele Acp-2100. In contrast, no associations could be detected between overall heterozygosity and the development or the degree of asymmetry (in paired structures) of any of the morphological traits in question. Although no obvious differences in the overall values of polymorphism or heterozygosity were found between the populations, selective hunting leads towards a change in allele frequencies and eventually to the loss of one or the other rare allele.


allozymes, antler development, Red deer, selective hunting



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