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Certain aspects of the natural history common to all deer (e.g.
antler growth and formation, collisions with vehicles, chronic wasting disease) have been split from the individual overviews and placed into their own Q/A – this is partly to avoid repetition but also to allow more detailed coverage of the topics.
The findings of Dr Pitra and his colleagues require additional study and no such split has been widely accepted.
The terrific variation observed in Red deer throughout their range has lead to the description of many potential subspecies.
The Red deer has a long history in Britain – one of only two native deer species in the UK, it’s a beast highly prized by hunters, naturalists, artists, poets and photographers alike.
Renowned Scottish artist Archibald Thorburn summed up the situation nicely in his 1920 book .” That which follows is a summary of Red deer natural history.
However, in their review of the situation in 1989, Patrick Lowe and Andrew Gardiner concluded that, from their analysis of nearly 300 deer skulls, although some morphological variation exists supporting the separation at the during 2004, by Technical University Munich-Weihenstephan (in Germany) taxonomist Christian Ludt and three colleagues, looked at a particular gene carried on the mt DNA of 51 populations of deer spanning the entire distribution of (henceforth referred to as the Red deer).
It is the Cervini tribe that interests us here – it contains four genera: is, to say the least, a contentious genus and there is much debate as to the number of species, and especially the number of subspecies, it contains.
I have opted to follow the bulk of the molecular data here and as such consider there to be 10 species within the ) deer, although both studies used artificial insemination and success rates were low.
In 1806 Pennsylvanian-born naturalist and physician Benjamin Smith Barton suggested that North American elk and Red deer from Europe were sufficiently different to be considered different species and proposed the name wapiti, meaning “white rump”, for the North American elk.
Since then, the wapiti has been the subject of much taxonomic yo-yoing, being moved between a full species, ).