Dama dama 

Scope: Global

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Taxonomy [top]

Kingdom Phylum Class Order Family
Animalia Chordata Mammalia Cetartiodactyla Cervidae

Scientific Name: Dama dama
Species Authority: (Linnaeus, 1758)
Regional Assessments:
Common Name(s):
English Persian Fallow Deer, Fallow Deer, Mesopotamian Fallow Deer
French Daim Européen
Spanish Gamo
Taxonomic Notes: Feldhamer et al. (1988) and Geist (1998) included Dama mesopotamica in this species, though it was regarded as a separate species from D. dama by Haltenorth (1959), Ferguson et al. (1985), Uerpmann (1987), and Harrison and Bates (1991). We follow Pitra et al. (2004) in treating D. mesopotamica as a separate species, based on a major study on the evolution and phylogeny of old world deer.

Assessment Information [top]

Red List Category & Criteria: Least Concern ver 3.1
Year Published: 2008
Date Assessed: 2008-06-30
Assessor(s): Masseti, M. & Mertzanidou, D.
Reviewer(s): Black, P.A. & Gonzalez, S. (Deer Red List Authority)
As a result of introductions by the Phoenicians, Romans, and Normans, it is a widespread and abundant species in Europe, hence is listed as Least Concern. However, in its Turkish native range this species is under serious threat.
Previously published Red List assessments:

Geographic Range [top]

Range Description:This is a western Palaearctic species. Its original range is unclear, but current knowledge suggests that Turkey and southern Europe (southern Italy, Sicily and the southern Balkan peninsula) were the post-glacial refuges of the species (Heidemann, 1976 and 1986; Chapman and Chapman, 1980; Bökönyi, 1986; Masseti and Rustioni, 1988; Masseti, 1996, 1999 and 2002; Burgio et al., 1998), though the palaeontological and archaeozoological evidence of the species’ diffusion in all these areas is very fragmentary. Records from Iran and the Middle East refer to Dama mesopotamica. Only one undoubtedly natural wild population survives, in the Düzlerçami Game Reserve in the Termessos National Park in southern Turkey, though this is now largely fenced. Other populations in Turkey, at Ayvalik Adalar, Gokova, Adakoy and Stavros-tis-Psokas appear to have died out in recent years (M. Masseti pers. comm.). The population on the island of Rhodes (Greece) is said to have been introduced in Neolithic times (Masseti 2007; Masseti et al. 2005, 2008). Certainly, fossils of fallow deer on Rhodes go back to Neolithic times, and there are no signs of prolonged periods of domestication, and so it could be considered a native population (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.). The population on Cyprus was introduced in the 20th century (Masseti 1999). The animals on Rhodes are genetically very distinct from all others, as are those in Termessos National Park (Masseti 2007; Masseti et al. 2005, 2008).

The species was introduced to the western Mediterranean by the Phoenicians, and to central and northern Europe by the Romans and Normans. However, most of the currently existing populations in Europe result from much more recent introductions (with the exception of some older ones in, for example, the United Kingdom, and at Castel Porziano in Italy). The distribution in Europe is much more scattered and patchy than indicated on the map (which shows its general extent of occurrence). Furthermore, most European populations are fenced and closely managed, and there are rather few truly free-ranging populations (though some are in the United Kingdom). The population on Rhodes is, however, free-ranging. In most places the fallow deer is managed as a park animal, as almost the whole of its present geographic range is attributable to humans. In Portugal, for example, most of the specimens occur within confined areas, such as parks and private hunting areas, and apart from a few scattered individuals there is no wild population (Cabral et al. 2005). Also in other areas such as Sicily and Calabria (Italy) there are only fenced and managed populations (M. Masseti pers. comm.). Most European animals (with the excepton those in Termessos National Park and on Rhodes) are essentially descended from domestic stock, and there are colour varieties that are considered to be a result of domestication.

More recently, the species has been introduced to many countries worldwide (not included in the distribution map), including South Africa, Australia, New Zealand (considered a pest there), the United States, Argentina, Chile, Peru, and Uruguay, as well as islands in Fijian group, the Lesser Antilles, and off the Pacific coast of Canada (Apollonio 1999). (Apollonio 1999).
Countries occurrence:
Argentina; Austria; Belarus; Belgium; Canada; Chile; Czech Republic; Denmark; Estonia; Fiji; Finland; France; Germany; Hungary; Ireland; Latvia; Lithuania; Luxembourg; Moldova; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Poland; Portugal; Romania; Russian Federation; Slovakia; South Africa; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Ukraine; United Kingdom; United States; Uruguay
Present - origin uncertain:
Albania; Bosnia and Herzegovina; Bulgaria; Croatia; Cyprus; Greece; Italy (Italy (mainland), Sardegna - Introduced, Sicilia - Introduced); Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of; Montenegro; Serbia (Serbia); Slovenia
Additional data:
Range Map:Click here to open the map viewer and explore range.

Population [top]

Population:Most introduced populations in Europe are stable (Apollonio 1999). However, in its native range in Turkey, this species has suffered severe declines and has disappeared most of its former distribution (M. Masseti pers. comm.). There is only one surviving population of D. dama that is considered to be an original native population. This population is restricted to Telmessos National Park in Turkey and numbers fewer than 30 individuals (Masseti 2007), with apparently fewer than ten animals remaining outside the fended area. It has declined by over 50% in the last ten years and is genetically distinct from D. dama occurring elsewhere (Masseti 2002, 2007). The population of D. dama on Rhodes has not been subject to any systematic research on population size (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.). The distribution range of fallow deer on Rhodes is about 550 km², and a subjective estimate of the population size ranges between 400 – 800 individuals (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.). Masseti (2002, 2007) estimated that there were 400-500 animals on Rhodes. There are recent signs of population recovery on Rhodes (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.).
Current Population Trend:Unknown
Additional data:
Population severely fragmented:No

Habitat and Ecology [top]

Habitat and Ecology:This is a a highly adaptable species that can survive in a wide range of habitats, including forest, shrubland, grassland, pastureland and plantations.

Use and Trade [top]

Use and Trade: Most hunting for the species is sustainable, but poaching of the tiny remaining native population in southern Turkey is a major problem.

Threats [top]

Major Threat(s): There are no major threats to this species in Europe. In the species' native range, hunting and habitat conversion for agriculture caused massive declines in the past (Wemmer 1998). The tiny remaining population in the native range in Turkey is at risk from inbreeding and hunting. The Rhodian population is also at risk form poaching and from the incidence of large fires (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.). In the future there might be the threat of outbreeding depression, as there is a tendency people on Rhodes to keep fallow deer of European origin in fenced areas, which, if they escape, could breed with the wild animals (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.). Furthermore, damage to summer crops on Rhodes, attributable to fallow deer, has been recorded, and as there is no compensation system for damage caused by deer damages, persecution of animals could take place (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.). Also, there is a reduction in water resources on the island due to climatic change, and this could affect the animals (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.).

Conservation Actions [top]

Conservation Actions: This species is listed on Appendix III of the Bern Convention. It occurs in a large number of protected areas. The main conservation priority for this species is to protect the surviving native population in the Düzlerçami Game Reserve in the Termessos National Park in southern Turkey. This will require strong anti-poaching measures, recovery management, captive breeding and re-introductions.

The population on Rhodes is also very important genetically and should also be the focus of conservation programmes. The free-ranging animals on Rhodes are protected by Greek law. Although poaching is still taking place, this is to a much lesser extent than was the case in the past. Thanks to more effective control of poaching, as well as the reduced number of large fires on the island, the fallow deer population seems to have recovered and regained much of its former range (up until 1960 it occurred in almost all of the rural and natural areas on the island). A fallow deer conservation plan for Greece is now needed, which should include: a) the establishment of a population and habitat monitoring program; b) the creation of a compensation system as well as a monitoring programme for agricultural damage caused by deer; c) the introduction of fallow deer of Rhodian origin to other places in Greece; and d) the implementation of public awareness and participatory programmes for the conservation of the species (D. Mertzanidou pers. comm.).

Classifications [top]

1. Forest -> 1.4. Forest - Temperate
3. Shrubland -> 3.4. Shrubland - Temperate
suitability:Suitable  major importance:Yes
3. Shrubland -> 3.8. Shrubland - Mediterranean-type Shrubby Vegetation
4. Grassland -> 4.4. Grassland - Temperate
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.2. Artificial/Terrestrial - Pastureland
14. Artificial/Terrestrial -> 14.3. Artificial/Terrestrial - Plantations
1. Land/water protection -> 1.1. Site/area protection
1. Land/water protection -> 1.2. Resource & habitat protection
2. Land/water management -> 2.1. Site/area management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.1. Harvest management
3. Species management -> 3.1. Species management -> 3.1.3. Limiting population growth
3. Species management -> 3.2. Species recovery
3. Species management -> 3.3. Species re-introduction -> 3.3.1. Reintroduction
3. Species management -> 3.4. Ex-situ conservation -> 3.4.1. Captive breeding/artificial propagation
4. Education & awareness -> 4.2. Training
4. Education & awareness -> 4.3. Awareness & communications
5. Law & policy -> 5.4. Compliance and enforcement -> 5.4.2. National level

In-Place Research, Monitoring and Planning
In-Place Land/Water Protection and Management
  Conservation sites identified:Yes, over entire range
In-Place Species Management
  Successfully reintroduced or introduced beningly:Yes
In-Place Education
11. Climate change & severe weather -> 11.2. Droughts
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.2. Small-holder farming
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.1. Annual & perennial non-timber crops -> 2.1.3. Agro-industry farming
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

2. Agriculture & aquaculture -> 2.3. Livestock farming & ranching -> 2.3.2. Small-holder grazing, ranching or farming
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.1. Ecosystem conversion
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.1. Intentional use (species is the target)
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

5. Biological resource use -> 5.1. Hunting & trapping terrestrial animals -> 5.1.2. Unintentional effects (species is not the target)
♦ timing:Past, Unlikely to Return    
→ Stresses
  • 2. Species Stresses -> 2.1. Species mortality

7. Natural system modifications -> 7.1. Fire & fire suppression -> 7.1.3. Trend Unknown/Unrecorded
♦ timing:Ongoing    
→ Stresses
  • 1. Ecosystem stresses -> 1.2. Ecosystem degradation

1. Research -> 1.2. Population size, distribution & trends
1. Research -> 1.5. Threats
1. Research -> 1.6. Actions
3. Monitoring -> 3.1. Population trends

♦  Food - human
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Sport hunting/specimen collecting
 Local : ✓   National : ✓ 

♦  Establishing ex-situ production *

Bibliography [top]

Appollonio, M. 1999. Dama dama. In: A. J. Mitchell-Jones, G. Amori, W. Bogdanowicz, B. Kryštufek, P. J. H. Reijnders, F. Spitzenberger, M. Stübbe, J. B. M. Thissen, V. Vohralík and J. Zima (eds), The Atlas of European Mammals, Academic Press, London, UK.

Bar-David, S., Saltz, D., Dayan, T., Dolev, A. and Perelberg, A. 2005. Demographic models and reality in reintroductions: the Persian fallow deer in Israel. Conservation Biology 19: 131-138.

Bökönyi, S. 1986. Faunal remains. In: C. Renfrew, M. Gimbutas and E. Elster (eds), Excavations at Sitagroi, a Prehistoric Village in Northeast Greece 1, pp. 63-132. Monumenta Archaeologica.

Burgio, E., Masseti, M. and Sara, M. 1998. Il daino Dama dama (Linnaeus, 1758) in Sicilia. Il Naturalista siciliano, S.IV 22(3-4): 375-391.

Cabral, M.J., Almeida, J., Almeida, P.R., Dellinger, T., Ferrand de Almeida, N., Oliveira, M. E., Palmeirim, J.M., Queiroz, A.I., Rogado, L. and Santos-Reis, M. (eds). 2005. Livro Vermelho dos Vertebrados de Portugal. Instituto da Conservação da Natureza, Lisboa.

Chapman, D. and Chapman, N. 1975. Fallow deer: their history, distribution and biology. Terence Dalton Ltd, Lavenham, UK.

Chapman, N. G. and Chapman, D. I. 1980. The distribution of fallow deer: a worldwide review. Mammal Review 10: 61-138.

Feldhamer, G.A., Farris-Renner, K.C. and Barker, C.M. 1988. Dama dama. Mammalian Species 317: 1-8.

Ferguson, W.W., Porath, Y. and Paley, S. 1985. Late Bronze period yields first osteological evidence of Dama dama (Artiodactyla; Cervidae) from Israel and Arabia. Mammalia 49: 209-214.

Geist, V. 1998. Deer of the World: Their Evolution, Behaviour, and Ecology. Stackpole Books, Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, USA.

Haltenorth, T. 1959. Beitrag zur kenntnis des Mesopotamischen Damhirsches—Cervus (Dama) mesopotamicus Brooke, 1875—und zur stammes- und verbreitungs- geschichte der Damhirsche Allengemein. Säugetierkundliche Mitteilungen VIII, Sonderheft: 1–89.

Harrison, D.L. and Bates, P.J.J. 1991. The Mammals of Arabia. Harrison Zoological Museum, Sevenoaks, UK.

Heidemann, G. 1976. Damwild, Cervus dama Linné, 1758, in Kleinasien. Bestand un Schutz. Säugetierkundliche Mitteilungen 24: 124-132.

Heidemann, G. 1986. Cervus dama (Linnaeus, 1758) - Damhirsch. In: J. Niethammer and F. Krapp (eds), Handbuch der Säugetiere Europas, Band 2/II, pp. 140-158. AULA-Verlag, Wiesbaden, Germany.

IUCN. 2008. IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. Available at: (Accessed: 5 October 2008).

Masseti, M. 1996. The postglacial diffusion of the genus Dama Frisch, 1775, in the Mediterranean region. Supplement. Ricerche Biologia Selvaggina 25: 7-29.

Masseti, M. 1999. The European fallow deer Dama dama L., 1758, in the Aegean region. Contributions to the Zoogeography and Ecology of the Eastern Mediterranean Region 1: 17-30.

Masseti, M. 2002. Island of Deer. Natural History of the Fallow Deer of Rhodes and of the Vertebrates of the Dodecanese (Greece). City of Rhodes Environment Organisation, Rhodes, Greece.

Masseti, M. 2007. Island of deer. Deer 14(3): 36-41.

Masseti, M. and Rustioni, M. 1988. Considerazioni preliminari sulla diffusione di Dama dama (Linnaeus, 1758) durante le epoche tardiglaciale e postglaciale nell’Italia mediterranea. Studi per l’Ecologia del Quaternario 10: 93-119.

Masseti, M., Cavallaro, A., Pecchioli, E. and Vernesi, C. 2005. Artificial occurrence of the fallow deer, Dama dama dama (L., 1758), on the island of Rhodes (Greece): insight from mtDNA Analysis. Human Evolution 21(2): 167-175.

Masseti, M., Pecchioli, E. and Vernesi, C. 2008. Phylogeography of the last surviving populations of Rhodian and Anatolian fallow deer (Dama dama dama L., 1758). Biological Journal of the Linnean Society 93: 835–844.

Pitra, C., Fickel, J., Meijaard, E. and Groves, C.P. 2004. Evolution and phylogeny of old world deer. Molecular Phylogenetics and Evolution 33: 880-895.

Uerpmann, H.-P. 1987. The ancient distribution of ungulate mammals in the Middle East. Dr. Ludwig Reichert Verlag, Wiesbaden.

Wemmer, C. 1998. Deer Status Survey and Conservation Action Plan. IUCN, Gland, Switzerland and Cambridge, UK.

Citation: Masseti, M. & Mertzanidou, D. 2008. Dama dama. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T42188A10656554. . Downloaded on 28 September 2016.
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