Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Morten Frederiksen

Demographic reconstruction from ancient DNA supports rapid extinction of the great auk

Research output: Contribution to journal/Conference contribution in journal/Contribution to newspaperJournal articleResearchpeer-review

DOI

  • Jessica E. Thomas, Bangor University, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Gary R. Carvalho, Bangor University
  • ,
  • James Haile, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Nicolas J. Rawlence, University of Otago
  • ,
  • Michael D. Martin, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • ,
  • Simon Yw Ho, University of Sydney
  • ,
  • Arnór Sigfússon, Verkís Consulting Engineers
  • ,
  • Vigfús A. Jósefsson, Verkís Consulting Engineers
  • ,
  • Morten Frederiksen
  • Jannie F. Linnebjerg
  • Jose A. Samaniego Castruita, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Jonas Niemann, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Mikkel Holger S. Sinding, Københavns Universitet, Greenland Institute of Natural Resources
  • ,
  • Marcela Sandoval-Velasco, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • André Er Soares, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • ,
  • Robert Lacy, Chicago Zoological Society
  • ,
  • Christina Barilaro, Landesmuseum Natur und Mensch Oldenburg
  • ,
  • Juila Best, Bournemouth University, Cardiff University
  • ,
  • Dirk Brandis, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel
  • ,
  • Chiara Cavallo, University of Amsterdam
  • ,
  • Mikelo Elorza, Sociedad de Ciencias Aranzadi
  • ,
  • Kimball L. Garrett, Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
  • ,
  • Maaike Groot, Free University of Berlin
  • ,
  • Friederike Johansson, Gothenburg Museum of Natural History, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • ,
  • Jan T. Lifjeld, Universitetet i Oslo
  • ,
  • Göran Nilson, Gothenburg Museum of Natural History, Gothenburg, Sweden.
  • ,
  • Dale Serjeanston, University of Southampton
  • ,
  • Paul Sweet, American Museum of Natural History
  • ,
  • Errol Fuller, Independent researcher
  • ,
  • Anne Karin Hufthammer, University of Bergen
  • ,
  • Morten Meldgaard, Greenland University
  • ,
  • Jon Fjeldså, Københavns Universitet
  • ,
  • Beth Shapiro, University of California, Santa Cruz
  • ,
  • Michael Hofreiter, Universität Potsdam
  • ,
  • John R. Stewart, Bournemouth University
  • ,
  • M. Thomas P. Gilbert, Københavns Universitet, Norwegian University of Science and Technology
  • ,
  • Michael Knapp, University of Otago

The great auk was once abundant and distributed across the North Atlantic. It is now extinct, having been heavily exploited for its eggs, meat, and feathers. We investigated the impact of human hunting on its demise by integrating genetic data, GPS-based ocean current data, and analyses of population viability. We sequenced complete mitochondrial genomes of 41 individuals from across the species' geographic range and reconstructed population structure and population dynamics throughout the Holocene. Taken together, our data do not provide any evidence that great auks were at risk of extinction prior to the onset of intensive human hunting in the early 16th century. In addition, our population viability analyses reveal that even if the great auk had not been under threat by environmental change, human hunting alone could have been sufficient to cause its extinction. Our results emphasise the vulnerability of even abundant and widespread species to intense and localised exploitation.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere47509
JournaleLife
Volume8
ISSN2050-084X
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2019

    Research areas

  • 19th century extinction, ancient DNA, evolutionary biology, genetics, genomics, hunting, paleogenetics, seabird exploitation

See relations at Aarhus University Citationformats

ID: 173075128