State Museum of Natural History
Biodiversity Data Centre

Capreolus pygargus (Pallas, 1771)

  • Cervus pygargus Pallas, 1771
  • Capreolus tianschanicus Saturnin, 1906
  • Capreolus bedfordi Thomas, 1908
  • Capreolus pygargus var. ferganicus Rasewig, 1909
  • Capreolus pygargus var. caucasica Dinnik, 1910
  • Capreolus melanotis Miller, 1911
Vernacular Name
Siberian Roe Deer, Eastern Roe Deer, Siberian Roe
Conservation status
No status defined
Value of species
Game (hunting) species
This taxon was formerly considered a subspecies-group of the European Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus. However, it is now regarded as a species distinct from C. capreolus (Sokolov et al. 1985, Sokolov and Gromov 1990, Randi et al. 1998, Hewison and Danilkin, 2001, Lorenzini et al. 2014 ). It was reviewed by Danilkin (1995).Three subspecies are typically recognized: C. pygargus pygargus Pallas, 1771 (main part of the distribution area), C. p. tianschanicus Saturnin, 1906 (southern part of the range in China) and C. p. bedfordi Thomas, 1908 (eastern part of the range). However, recent phylogenetic analyses could bring into question the existence of these subspecies, Lorenzini et al. (2014) found no relationship between mitochondrial genetic lineages and geographic distribution, and no particular haplogroups corresponding to the proposed subspecies were detected. Further research incorporating nuclear DNA is required to resolve the taxonomy of this group. Recent molecular studies have detected mitochondrial DNA haplotypes of Siberian Roe Deer in Poland and Lithuania, 2000 km farther west than the western limit of its modern distribution (Lorenzini et al. 2014, Matosiuk et al. 2014, Olano-Marin et al. 2014).Genetic analyses of European Roe deer in Poland suggest that Siberian haplotypes are of ancient origin (they were not detected within the modern range of Siberian Roe Deer) and that genetic introgression occurred as the range of Siberian Roe Deer expanded as far west as Central Europe, and European Roe Deer spread east from western refugia during the last glacial maximum (Lorenzini et al. 2014, Matosiuk et al. 2014). As well or instead of introgression into western Roe, it is possible that Siberian Roe had a more western distribution during the Late Peistocene and may even have gone undetected until today, coexisting with European Roe Deer, further evidence is needed to determine the taxonomic identity of the roes in these parts of Europe that bear Siberian-type mtDNA. The Siberian Roe Deer has a very wide distribution in the Palaearctic. It is widely distributed in continental Asia and parts of Eastern Europe (Danilkin 1995), from the Khoper and Don River bend to the Ural Mountains and across southern Siberia. It is found through northern Mongolia (including Navchvandan Mountain in south-eastern parts of Eastern Mongolia, Hangai Mountain Range, Darkhad in Hövsgöl Mountain Range, Hentii Mountain Range, Ikh Hyangan Mountain Range and north-eastern Mongol Altai Mountain Range) east to the coastlines of the sea of Japan, and the Yellow Sea, including the Korean Peninsula (Danilkin 1995). Its geographic range branches out towards the south at the West Siberian Plain down to Lake Balkhash, and from there expanding back to the east well into Kazakhstan without reaching the Aral Sea. Also, it occurs from Manchuria into northern and central China, to the western half of the left margin of the Yang Tze river, into the eastern Tibetan Region (Bannikov 1954, Sokolov et al. 1982, Dulamtseren et al. 1989). Records from further south as far as northeastern Myanmar require confirmation. It formerly extended as far west and eastern Ukraine, and there is still an isolated population on the northern slopes of the Caucasus Mountains. It also occurs on Cheju Island in the Republic of Korea. It has been recorded at altitudes from sea-level up to 3,300 m asl. Recent analysis of mitochondrial DNA shows evidence of this species in the ancestry of roe populations in Lithuania and Poland, well west of the morphologically defined range, determining the appropriate taxonomic treatment requires further investigation (notably on morphology of such animals). Although it is generally considered to be common, it is in decline in many places because of over-hunting. Danilkin (1995) estimated the total world population to be "about 1 million" individuals, though this represents a considerable decline, as during the nineteenth century, 500,000 were killed annually in Russia. Nevertheless, in the 1990s, healthy populations appeared to be common in China and Russia (Danilkin 1995, Otaishi and Gao 1990). Ohtaishi and Sheng (1993) estimated the total population living in China at the time in "about 500,000" individuals. The species has almost certainly declined since then due to hunting (see Danilkin 1995). For example, in the Amur region of Russia, the population was estimated to be 134,870 individuals in 1991, but it has been in continuous decline since then due to unauthorized hunting and fires (Toushkin 2007). In 2011, the total population of C. pygargus from 10 federal regions of Siberia was estimated at 326,825 individuals (Federal Service for Supervision of Natural Resources 2012). The situation could be more even more negative in the Korean Peninsula where trapping, overhunting and the opening of new land to logging operations may be having a negative effect on the species (Won and Smith 1999), in the small areas of DPR Korea for which recent information is available, it is extirpated or very rare even within extensive suitable habitat, such as the Myohyang range (J. W. Duckworth pers. comm. 2015, based on observations during 1999–2004). In 1985, the population size throughout Mongolia was estimated as between 70,000 and 89,000, though in the same year density estimates of 4-5 individuals over 1,000 ha were made in Khovsgol, with a total population estimate for this region of 250,000 animals (Sukhbat and Shagdarjav 1990). Over the last 10 years, however, the species has largely disappeared from the Bogd Uul mountain region, with only possible sightings in 2004. In the most recent population estimate conducted was in the Nomrog Special Protected Area, where 298 were found (K. Olson pers. comm.). No data seem to be currently available on the status of this species in Kazakhstan. Population density in Russia depends on vegetation type. It is most abundant in light oak and coniferous forests, and is not found in fir forests. In the Sikhote-Alin State Reserve, population density varies from 0.2 to 1.3 individuals per km² (Myslenkov 1990). The species inhabits different types of deciduous and mixed forests and forest-steppes, where it tends to exploit areas with an abundance of grass cover on which it grazes (Danilkin 1995). In general terms it is most common in the forest-steppe belt of central Russia (Danilkin et al. 2000, Korytin et al. 2002), where it reaches high population densities of up to 12 individuals per 100 ha in tallgrass meadows and floodplains (Danilkin 1995). It is shy, and most active at night, and often uses salt-licks. In mountains it is found up to 3,300 m asl. It makes seasonal movements in some areas. It is solitary in summer (females stay with their young), but in winter forms mixed groups up to 20-30 individuals. During seasonal movements, group size increases up to 500 individuals. In the province of Amur (Russian Federation), the species migrates every year from winter to summer grounds, for up to 200 km, always following the same routes (Danilkin et al. 1995). During heat males are territorial. It is weakly polygynous, and does not form harems. Mating occurs from mid-July to mid-September. Young are born in May-June, the females give birth to one or two calves (rarely up to four). Gestation is six to ten months, usually with a lag phase of about four months (i.e. delayed implantation: the embryo (blastocyst) does not immediately implant in the uterus, but is maintained in a state of dormancy, Danilkin 1996). Maturity is reached by 13 months, and adults live 10-12 years (Danilkin 1995).
Book reference

Taxonomic branch