Home / Science & Research / Supported Projects Past and Present / The relative contribution of genetic drift and natural selection on founder populations of deer The relative contribution of genetic drift and natural selection on founder populations of deerMenno de Jong, University of DurhamPhoto by: Szczepan KlejbukFIND OUT MORE ABOUT THE STUDY Whitehead Trust Studentship – Menno de JongMost British deer have been impacted by population bottlenecks during introductions (or in the case of roe and fallow deer, reintroductions). The implications for long-term survival and adaptation to local habitat are poorly understood, but theoretically selection is a weak force when population sizes are small.At the same time, founder events are an important process in evolution, and founder groups evidently adapt to their new environment. This study will focus on understanding the relative importance of stochastic factors and natural selection for founder populations introduced to a new habitat.In the UK there are several species that originated in quite distinct habitat in Asia (sika, muntjac and Chinese water deer) or were re-introduced from Europe (roe and fallow deer) and started as small founder groups in the UK. Next generation sequencing methods will be used to assess evidence for changes associated with both selection and genetic drift. The focus will be on two species – roe deer, building on earlier work* (funded by the Whitehead Trust) that identified population structure, the impact of local founder events, and the source of historical introductions, and reindeer introduced to the British overseas territory of South Georgia in the South Atlantic.The latter case study will be included especially due to the excellent database available providing samples from the original population in Norway and the introduced population on South Georgia, and good historical data on the numbers introduced, the timing, and the demographics of the founder population since introduction.It is expected that these studies will provide valuable transferable inference about the potential for deer species to adapt to local habitat in spite of small founder population size for all introduced species of deer in the UK. This information is relevant to the long-term survival and management of these species.*This builds on Dr Karis Baker’s work in an importantly different direction: what are the consequences for individual and population development of moving a limited number of deer into deer-free environments? This has implications for pure evolutionary ecology and conservation management. FURTHER READING Surveillance for Coronaviruses in Wildlife The British Deer Society is asking its members and supporters to assist with a surveillance study looking into coronaviruses in wildlife. This study aims to support the development of diagnostic tests, aid future surveillance, and improve preparedness for future coronavirus outbreaks. BDS CEO Goes Live On TalkTV To Promote Fact-led Deer Management David Mcauley, British Deer Society (BDS) CEO went live on TalkTV and Radio at the weekend to promote the importance of having more fact-led approaches in deer management, less sensationalism in the media around total UK deer numbers and to speak up for deer welfare. Deer Management in the UK: Sustainability Verses Eradication Recently, we received a heartfelt letter from a dedicated member of the British Deer Society (BDS), a seasoned deer stalker with 30 years of experience who was dismayed by the indiscriminate and unsustainable shooting of roe deer around his management areas. His words shed light on the evolving challenges faced by conscientious deer managers who prioritise legal and humane practices in an environment where not all shooters share the same values.