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Indeed, it’s worth remembering that what happens in captivity and what happens in the wild may be very different!The majority of species have been fairly well defined, but there are two in particular that have caused (indeed, are still a source of) much controversy – debate rages over whether the wapiti and Red deer should be considered the same, or distinct, species.) 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.The Red deer has a long history in Britain – one of only two native deer species in the UK, it’s a beast highly prized by hunters, naturalists, artists, poets and photographers alike.Renowned Scottish artist Archibald Thorburn summed up the situation nicely in his 1920 book .” That which follows is a summary of Red deer natural history.
In a major review of Red deer taxonomy published in the exhibits a high degree of morphological similarity between the animals across their range.
Generally-speaking, it is considered that in order for two individuals to be considered for subspecific status, there should be a maximum of 10% overlap in physical characteristics – in other words, they should be at least 90% different from each other.
Drs Lowe and Gardiner examined the skulls of 10 of the 19 subspecies of Red deer listed by John Ellerman and Sir Charles Morrison-Scott in their 1951 , examining 16 variables of skull size and shape and subjecting the data to three separate statistical analyses.
The wapiti range over much of North America and eastern Asia and are superficially similar to the Red deer of Europe and Asia (an area collectively termed “Eurasia”).
(Incidentally, the wapiti are often referred to as “elk” in North America, but should not be confused with the European “elk”, or Moose, !