Back to top

mtDNA analysis confirms the endangered Kashmir musk deer extends its range to Nepal

Musk deer Moschus spp. are endemic to the high mountain forests of central Asia. The taxonomic status of musk deer in the central and western Himalayas is poorly understood. We investigated the phylogenetic relationship of musk deer from the central and western Himalayas based on mitochondrial genomic data of Cytochrome b (380 bps) and D-loop (1000 bps). Our results distinguished two divergent lineages using higher bootstrap support (bs) values from the Maximum likelihood and Bayesian posterior probabilities (bpp). Both the Manang and Kaski lineages from central Nepal are confirmed as Himalayan musk deer Moschus leucogaster and represent a species complex widespread throughout the central and eastern Himalayan region. The musk deer Mustang lineage was confirmed as Kashmir musk deer Moschus cupreus and has wide distribution in the western Himalayas (from central Nepal to Afghanistan). Our analysis validates that Kashmir musk deer is a genetically distinct species and it clarifies that Himalayan musk deer and Kashmir musk deer are confirmed instead of Alpine musk deer Moschus chrysogaster which has been previously described from the southern parts of Himalayas of Nepal, India and Pakistan.