Friday, 25 March 2011


Until recently biologists considered that Red Deer and Wapiti or Elk (C. canadensis) were the same species, forming a continuous distribution throughout temperate Eurasia and North America. This belief was based largely[citation needed] on the fully fertile hybrids that can be produced under captive conditions.

Genetic evidence suggests that the Wapiti/Elk and Central Asian Red Deer should be treated as species separate from the Red Deer.[2][18][3] If the Central Asian Red Deer (from the Caspian Sea to western China) is recognized as a species, it includes the Yarkand Deer and Bactrian Deer (the two may be synonymous), but it could possibly also include the Kashmir Stag, which has not been sampled in recent studies.[2][3] If it is included in the Central Asian Red Deer, the scientific name of that species is C. hanglu. If it is not included in the Central Asian Deer, the scientific name of that species is C. yarkandensis, and the Kashmir Stag (C. hanglu) may represent a separate monotypic species.[2][3]
Bactrian deer

Others members of the Red Deer group that some believe represent separate species are C. corsicanus, C. wallichii and C. xanthopygus.[2][19] If so, C. corsicanus includes the subspecies barbarus (perhaps a synonym of corsicanus), and is restricted to Maghreb in north Africa, Corsica and Sardinia.[2][3] C. wallichii would probably include the subspecies kansuensis and macneilli (both are perhaps synonyms of wallichii), and would be found from Tibet to central China.[2][3][20] C. xanthopygus would probably include the subspecies alashanicus (perhaps a synonym of xanthopygus), and would be found from the Russian Far East to northeastern China.[2][3][20] This would restrict the "true" Red Deer (C. elaphus) to Europe, Anatolia, Caucasus and northwestern Iran, and the Elk/Wapiti (C. canadensis) to North America and the Asian regions of Tian Shan, Altai and Great Khingan.[2] Alternatively, the barbarus group are subspecies of the "true" Red Deer, while the wallichii and xanthopygus groups are subspecies of the Elk/Wapiti.[3]

The International Union for Conservation of Nature originally listed nine subspecies of Red Deer (Cervus elaphus): three as endangered, one as vulnerable, one as near threatened, and four without enough data to give a category (Data Deficient). The species as a whole, however, is listed as least concern.[1] However, this was based on the traditional classification of Red Deer as one species (Cervus elaphus), including the Elk.

Selected members of the Red Deer species group are listed in the below table. Of the ones listed, hippelaphys, scoticus and bactrianus may all be junior synonyms.

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