Barros, T., Ferreira, E., Rocha, R.G., Brotas, G., Carranza, J., Fonseca, C. y Torres, R.T. (2020) The Multiple Origins of Roe Deer Populations in Western Iberia and Their Relevance for Conservation. Animals 2020, 10, 2419.
The roe deer (Capreolus capreolus) is native and widespread in Europe and its phylogeography has been clarified in the last decades. Southern peninsulas are considered as reservoirs of genetic diversity and the source for the recolonization of Europe after the last glacial maximum. Even though roe deer populations have been genetically characterized, there is a major knowledge gap about the populations at the western edge of its distribution. To fill this caveat, and based on mitochondrial and nuclear DNA data, we aim to: (i) characterize the genetic diversity and structure of roe deer in western Iberia; (ii) clarify the origins and phylogeographical affinities of these populations, namely the relict population from Peneda Gerês National Park (PNPG, Portugal) and the likely allochthonous populations from central and south (CS) Portugal; (iii) discuss the implications of our findings for the management and conservation of the roe deer. Three major genetic clusters were inferred based on nuclear genotypes and were structured in a similar way as the three major mtDNA clades present in Iberia. Patterns inferred with nuclear markers confirmed PNPG as a relict population. Roe deer from CS Portugal share haplotypes with Central Europe rather than with other western Iberian populations, confirming its mainly allochthonous origin. Our results highlight western Iberia as a diversity hotspot for roe deer. We highlight the role of intraspecific genetic diversity as a source of resilience against ongoing global changes; the need for transboundary management and the importance of genetic data to inform management and conservation. When considered, repopulation or translocation measures should follow the IUCN Law of Reintroductions and meticulously conducted in order to preserve the genetic heritage of the species.