Phylogeographic, ancient DNA, fossil and morphometric analyses reveal ancient and modern introductions of a large mammal: The complex case of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Ireland

Ruth F. Carden, Allan D. McDevitt, Frank E. Zachos, Peter C. Woodman, Peter O'Toole, Hugh Rose, Nigel T. Monaghan, Michael G. Campana, Daniel G. Bradley, Ceiridwen J. Edwards

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

50 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

The problem of how and when the island of Ireland attained its contemporary fauna has remained a key question in understanding Quaternary faunal assemblages. We assessed the complex history and origins of the red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Ireland using a multi-disciplinary approach. Mitochondrial sequences of contemporary and ancient red deer (dating from c 30,000 to 1700 cal. yr BP) were compared to decipher possible source populations of red deer in Ireland, in addition to craniometric analyses of skulls from candidate regions to distinguish between different colonization scenarios. Radiocarbon dating was undertaken on all bone fragments that were previously undated. Finally, a comprehensive review of the scientific literature, unpublished reports and other sources of data were also searched for red deer remains within Irish palaeontological and archaeological contexts. Despite being present in Ireland prior to the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM), there is a notable scarcity of red deer from the Younger Dryas stadial period until the Neolithic. The presence of red deer in Irish archaeological sites then occurs more frequently relative to other species. One population in the southwest of Ireland (Co. Kerry) shared haplotypes with the ancient Irish specimens and molecular dating and craniometric analysis suggests its persistence in Ireland since the Neolithic period. The synthesis of the results from this multi-disciplinary study all indicate that red deer were introduced by humans during the Irish Neolithic period and that one of these populations persists today. In conjunction with recent results from other species, Neolithic people from Ireland's nearest landmass, Britain, played a vital role in establishing its contemporary fauna and flora.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-84
Number of pages11
JournalQuaternary Science Reviews
Volume42
Early online date30 Mar 2012
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 May 2012
Externally publishedYes

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Phylogeographic, ancient DNA, fossil and morphometric analyses reveal ancient and modern introductions of a large mammal: The complex case of red deer (Cervus elaphus) in Ireland'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this