Papers in the Biological Sciences


Date of this Version



Published in Wildlife Society Bulletin 44(2):246–251; 2020; DOI: 10.1002/wsb.1095


Copyright © 2020 The Wildlife Society. Used by permission.


We compared mitochondrial cytochrome b sequences of ring‐necked pheasants (Phasianus colchicus) from Midwestern United States (SD and NE, USA) to a molecular phylogeographic hypothesis of pheasants in the native Eurasian range to understand which subspecies are represented by wild and captive released birds. We found that these birds represent 2 Eurasian lineages, which we refer to generally as northern Eurasian (Colchicus group) and eastern China (Torquatus group). These mitochondrial DNA lineages occur in different frequencies in the wild, with the latter being 3 times more common. This suggests that 1) the eastern China lineage is either better suited to surviving in natural environments of the Midwestern United States outside captivity; 2) this group was more highly represented in original or ongoing releases; or 3) this group is more easily harvested. Confirmation of these possibilities could affect the type of pheasants bred for release. We also detected a low level of genetic variability in Midwestern birds relative to those from the native range, suggestive of an inbreeding effect. © 2020 The Wildlife Society.