The (sleeping) Beauty in the Beast – a review on the water deer, Hydropotes inermis


The water deer, Hydropotes inermis (Cervidae, Mammalia), is a small, solitary cervid. It is native to China and Korea, but some feral populations also live in Europe. In contrast to other deer species, where males are characterized by antlers and small/no-upper canines, H. inermis lacks antlers, but grows long upper canines. For this phenotype and particularities of its biology, the species holds considerable potential not only for our understanding of cervid biology, but also for important questions of basic developmental and regenerative biology. However, H. inermis populations are decreasing, and many of the pressing scientific questions motivated by this peculiar species are still open. Here, we review the most different aspects of the species' biology and we discuss scientific publications ranging from the year of the species' first description in 1870 until 2015. We briefly sketch its state of conservation, and we discuss the current understanding of its phylogeny. Lastly, the present overview identifies areas that deserve future research available.


biogeography; morphology; phenotype; ecology; behaviour; genetics; phylogeny; Cervidae; fossil record; conservation

Full Text:

PDF (online first)



Article Metrics

Metrics Loading ...

Metrics powered by PLOS ALM

Copyright (c) 2017 Ann-Marie Schilling, Gertrud E. Rössner

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.

Hystrix, the Italian Journal of Mammalogy ISSN 1825-5272 (electronic version) 0394-1914 (printed version) Impact Factor (2016) 1.479, CiteScore (2016) 3.51.
Published by Associazione Teriologica Italiana
Creative Commons LicenseWorks published in Hystrix are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.