First genetic analysis of introduced axis deer from Croatia.
The axis deer (Axis axis) is a species of ungulate native to the Indian subcontinent. In the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the axis deer was introduced to many regions of the world, where it established non-native free-ranging populations. The introduction of the axis deer to Croatia resulted in three populations that still live on the Adriatic islands. In this study, two new mitochondrial DNA control region (D-loop) haplotypes were identified in 39 axis deer samples from two Adriatic islands Rab and Dugi Otok in Croatia. Two distinct D-loop haplotypes found in Croatian axis deer populations indicate that axis deer in Croatia were introduced from at least two maternal lineages. Genetic differentiation between populations was quite low and not significant. Haplotype (0.497) and nucleotide (0.006) diversity of Croatian axis deer was similar to that of axis deer from Queensland, Australia (0.461 and 0.002, respectively). For a better understanding of the origin and genetic diversity of the introduced axis deer from Croatia, analysis of native populations and the addition of highly variable nuclear markers is required.