[MARMAM] New paper on response of bowhead whales to late Pleistocene climate change

Andy Foote footead at gmail.com
Tue Apr 9 08:20:23 PDT 2013


Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the following publication on the late
Pleistocene population dynamics and range of bowhead whales, in Nature
Communications:

http://www.nature.com/ncomms/journal/v4/n4/full/ncomms2714.html

Ancient DNA reveals that bowhead whale lineages survived Late Pleistocene
climate change and habitat shifts

Andrew D. Foote, Kristin Kaschner, Sebastian E. Schultze, Cristina Garilao,
Simon Y.W. Ho, Klaas Post, Thomas F.G. Higham, Catherine Stokowska, Henry
van der Es, Clare B. Embling, Kristian Gregersen, Friederike Johansson,
Eske Willerslev & M. Thomas P. Gilbert

The climatic changes of the glacial cycles are thought to have been a major
driver of population declines and species extinctions. However, studies to
date have focused on terrestrial fauna and there is little understanding of
how marine species responded to past climate change. Here we show that a
true Arctic species, the bowhead whale (*Balaena mysticetus*), shifted its
range and tracked its core suitable habitat northwards during the rapid
climate change of the Pleistocene–Holocene transition. Late Pleistocene
lineages survived into the Holocene and effective female population size
increased rapidly, concurrent with a threefold increase in core suitable
habitat. This study highlights that responses to climate change are likely
to be species specific and difficult to predict. We estimate that the core
suitable habitat of bowhead whales will be almost halved by the end of this
century, potentially influencing future population dynamics.

Andy Foote, Kristin Kaschner and coauthors
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