A new research attempts to emphasize that under intensive localized pressure even the abundant and widespread species tend to get vulnerable.
The research was conducted by Dr. Jessica Thomas, a Swansea-based scientist. The finding was published in the journal eLife. She explained it in detail.
The stubby-winged and bulbous-billed great auks, about 80cm tall, used to be found all across the North Atlantic. From North America through Greenland, Scandinavia, Iceland, and the UK.
The research suggests that humans are responsible for their extinction. They were mostly hunted for food and feathers by local people and since they were flightless hunting was easy.
During her Ph.D. at both Bangor and Copenhagen University, from 41 museum specimens, Dr. Thomas studied bone and tissue samples
Dr, Thomas, and her colleagues found that around 1500, hunting intensified when European seamen discovered the rich fishing grounds off Newfoundland and by about 1850, the great auk was extinct. On Eldey Island, the last two known specimens were hunted down.
The signatures for their population decline were studied. Lack of genetic diversity is supposed to be one of the signatures that suggests inbreeding and that species were being vulnerable to environmental change and diseases.
However, studies also suggest as per their genetic timeline, the genetic diversity was high and they were not at the risk of extinction before the hunting begun.
Tags : Dr. Jessica Thomas, North America, Greenland, UK, auks,