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Unfortunately, the majority of these traits are not good taxonomic indicators, because they’re readily influenced by the environment – arguably this is especially true for body size and antler growth, both of which can be severely limited in habitats with poor grazing/browsing, even though antler development appears deeply rooted in the animal’s genetics.Consequently, the subspecific division of the Red deer remains a controversial topic.Indeed, it’s worth remembering that what happens in captivity and what happens in the wild may be very different!
In the paper Dr Lönnberg compared the skull anatomy of Red deer collected from various parts of its range and proposed several of the 12-or-so subspecies still in contention today.
) Traditionally, many authors have chosen to lump wapiti within (i.e.
as a subspecies of) the Red deer because, despite various anatomical, biochemical, ecological, behavioural and (more recently) genetic differences, wapiti are able to hybridize successfully -- i.e.
Nonetheless, there is agreement that the majority of deer (i.e.
all those except the Musk deer of the south Asian mountains) can be grouped within a single family: the Cervidae.