Relaxed phylogenetics and dating with
A summary of the more general aspects of the biology, ecology and behaviour of Britain’s deer species can be found elsewhere on this site.Taxonomy: Deer classification is a contentious subject, with disagreement over where the animals sit in relation to other mammals (namely whether or not they should be grouped with the whales and dolphins) as well as how many species and/or subspecies should be formally recognised.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.
The majority of species have been fairly well defined, but there are two in particular that have caused (indeed, are still a source of) much controversy – debate rages over whether the wapiti and Red deer should be considered the same, or distinct, species.
The wapiti range over much of North America and eastern Asia and are superficially similar to the Red deer of Europe and Asia (an area collectively termed “Eurasia”).
(Incidentally, the wapiti are often referred to as “elk” in North America, but should not be confused with the European “elk”, or Moose, !
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.
In his ) typically reaches less than 100kg (220 lbs); Red stags in Britain and Norway sport thick, dark neck manes, while those in Spain fail to develop any trace of a mane.