The genetic legacy of extreme exploitation in a polar vertebrate

Paijmans, Anneke J.; Stoffel, Martin A.; Bester, Marthán N.; Cleary, Alison C.; De Bruyn, P. J. Nico; Forcada, Jaume ORCID:; Goebel, Michael E.; Goldsworthy, Simon D.; Guinet, Christophe; Lydersen, Christian; Kovacs, Kit M.; Lowther, Andrew; Hoffman, Joseph I.. 2020 The genetic legacy of extreme exploitation in a polar vertebrate. Scientific Reports, 10 (1), 5089. 12, pp.

Before downloading, please read NORA policies.
Text (Open Access)
© The Author(s) 2020
s41598-020-61560-8.pdf - Published Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.

Download (1MB) | Preview


Understanding the effects of human exploitation on the genetic composition of wild populations is important for predicting species persistence and adaptive potential. We therefore investigated the genetic legacy of large-scale commercial harvesting by reconstructing, on a global scale, the recent demographic history of the Antarctic fur seal (Arctocephalus gazella), a species that was hunted to the brink of extinction by 18th and 19th century sealers. Molecular genetic data from over 2,000 individuals sampled from all eight major breeding locations across the species’ circumpolar geographic distribution, show that at least four relict populations around Antarctica survived commercial hunting. coalescent simulations suggest that all of these populations experienced severe bottlenecks down to effective population sizes of around 150–200. Nevertheless, comparably high levels of neutral genetic variability were retained as these declines are unlikely to have been strong enough to deplete allelic richness by more than around 15%. These findings suggest that even dramatic short-term declines need not necessarily result in major losses of diversity, and explain the apparent contradiction between the high genetic diversity of this species and its extreme exploitation history.

Item Type: Publication - Article
Digital Object Identifier (DOI):
ISSN: 2045-2322
Date made live: 31 Mar 2020 11:01 +0 (UTC)

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item

Document Downloads

Downloads for past 30 days

Downloads per month over past year

More statistics for this item...