Island Populations, Human Introductions and the Limitations of Genetic Analyses: the Case of the Sardinian Red Deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus).
Human Evolution (2006) 21: 177–183. DOI 10.1007/s11598-006-9012-y
The Corsican red deer (Cervus elaphus corsicanus) is endemic to the Tyrrhenian islands of Corsica and Sardinia. It has been regarded as an introduced species and has allegedly been present on the islands since the beginning of the Neolithic culture some 8,000 years ago. In this review, we present the results of relevant genetic analyses and discuss their implications for the origin of C. e. corsicanus. Different genetic studies hypothesize that the most probable ancestral populations for Sardianian red deer were alternatively, the Near East, North Africa, or mainland Italy. These respective scenarios are evaluated and it is concluded that geneticists have not yet been unable to definitively solve the problem. However, a natural colonization of the Tyrrhenian islands from mainland Italy via the Tuscan archipelago is not only in accordance with palaeontological findings but also with at least some of the genetic data.