Deer at Nara Park Keep Unique Genotype over 1,000 Yrs


Tokyo, Feb. 1 (Jiji Press)--A team of researchers from Japanese universities has found that a herd of Japanese deer inhabiting around Nara Park in the western Japan city of Nara has maintained a unique genotype for over 1,000 years.

Amid shrinking deer habitats caused by hunting and development, the herd at the park, adjacent to Kasugataisha Shrine and local temples, survived without mixing with other herds, as the local group was protected as sacred by humans, according to a paper released Tuesday by the researchers at Fukushima University, Nara University of Education and Yamagata University.

The paper was published the same day in the Journal of Mammalogy of the American Society of Mammalogists.

The team, including Toshihito Takagi, a graduate student at Fukushima University, collected muscle and blood samples from a total of 294 wild deer in 30 locations in the Kii Peninsula, including Nara Park, and analyzed their genetic structures.

As a result, the team found that deer in all of the locations had the same ancestors and could be divided into three groups--one around Nara Park, one in the western part of the Kii Peninsula and another in the eastern part of the peninsula.

[Copyright The Jiji Press, Ltd.]

Jiji Press