Feeding diets of the Korean water deer (Hydropotes inermis argyropus) based on a 202 bp rbcL sequence analysis

Baek Jun Kim, Nam Sook Lee, Sang Don Lee

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21 Scopus citations


The water deer (Hydropotes inermis) is one of the rare small ruminants in the world. There are two distinct subspecies in Far East Asia: one (H. i. inermis) lives in China, and the other (H. i. argyropus) lives in Korea. Unlike the Chinese subspecies, the diet of the Korean subspecies in the wild has rarely been studied. Here, we analyzed the diets of the Korean water deer by using 202 bp rbcL sequences of plants found in fecal samples. Both similarity (%) and phylogeny (NJ tree) of the sequences were considered for the sequence assignment. These methods successfully assigned each sequence to only one family of one order without exception. We found that the Korean water deer fed on a total of 18 orders and 24 families of plants in the summer season. It fed mainly on Asteraceae family (28.4%) followed by Fagaceae (15.9%) and Polygonaceae (11.5%). There was a significant difference in diet composition between lowland area and mountainous area deer (P < 0.001). The Korean water deer on Daebu Island are presumably browsers feeding mainly on forbs or woody plants.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)851-856
Number of pages6
JournalConservation Genetics
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2011

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Acknowledgments This study was supported by SWRRC (1-0-3) and KRF (2009-1449-1-6), which the authors wish to thank for their financial support. The authors thank Dr. S. H. Lee for his help with obtaining fecal samples in the field. Also, we are grateful to Dr. R. Morrison for providing us with critical review on this study.


  • Browser
  • Feeding diet
  • Korean water deer
  • Phylogeny
  • Similarity
  • rbcL


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