Climate impacts on transocean dispersal and habitat in gray whales from the Pleistocene to 2100

  • Arctic animals face dramatic habitat alteration due to ongoing climate change. Understanding how such species have responded to past glacial cycles can help us forecast their response to today's changing climate. Gray whales are among those marine species likely to be strongly affected by Arctic climate change, but a thorough analysis of past climate impacts on this species has been complicated by lack of information about an extinct population in the Atlantic. While little is known about the history of Atlantic gray whales or their relationship to the extant Pacific population, the extirpation of the Atlantic population during historical times has been attributed to whaling. We used a combination of ancient and modern DNA, radiocarbon dating and predictive habitat modelling to better understand the distribution of gray whales during the Pleistocene and Holocene. Our results reveal that dispersal between the Pacific and Atlantic was climate dependent and occurred both during the Pleistocene prior to the last glacial period and theArctic animals face dramatic habitat alteration due to ongoing climate change. Understanding how such species have responded to past glacial cycles can help us forecast their response to today's changing climate. Gray whales are among those marine species likely to be strongly affected by Arctic climate change, but a thorough analysis of past climate impacts on this species has been complicated by lack of information about an extinct population in the Atlantic. While little is known about the history of Atlantic gray whales or their relationship to the extant Pacific population, the extirpation of the Atlantic population during historical times has been attributed to whaling. We used a combination of ancient and modern DNA, radiocarbon dating and predictive habitat modelling to better understand the distribution of gray whales during the Pleistocene and Holocene. Our results reveal that dispersal between the Pacific and Atlantic was climate dependent and occurred both during the Pleistocene prior to the last glacial period and the early Holocene immediately following the opening of the Bering Strait. Genetic diversity in the Atlantic declined over an extended interval that predates the period of intensive commercial whaling, indicating this decline may have been precipitated by Holocene climate or other ecological causes. These first genetic data for Atlantic gray whales, particularly when combined with predictive habitat models for the year 2100, suggest that two recent sightings of gray whales in the Atlantic may represent the beginning of the expansion of this species' habitat beyond its currently realized range.show moreshow less

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Metadaten
Author details:S. Elizabeth Alter, Matthias Meyer, Klaas Post, Paul CzechowskiORCiD, Peter Gravlund, Cork Gaines, Howard C. Rosenbaum, Kristin KaschnerORCiDGND, Samuel T. Turvey, Johannes van der Plicht, Beth ShapiroORCiDGND, Michael HofreiterORCiDGND
URN:urn:nbn:de:kobv:517-opus4-438920
DOI:https://doi.org/10.25932/publishup-43892
ISSN:1866-8372
Title of parent work (German):Postprints der Universität Potsdam : Mathematisch Naturwissenschaftliche Reihe
Publication series (Volume number):Zweitveröffentlichungen der Universität Potsdam : Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Reihe (965)
Publication type:Postprint
Language:English
Date of first publication:2020/07/09
Publication year:2015
Publishing institution:Universität Potsdam
Release date:2020/07/09
Tag:ancient DNA; climate change; last glacial maximum; marine mammal
Issue:965
Number of pages:15
First page:1510
Last Page:1522
Source:Molecular Ecology 24 (2015) 7, 1510-1522 DOI:10.1111/mec.13121
Organizational units:Mathematisch-Naturwissenschaftliche Fakultät
DDC classification:5 Naturwissenschaften und Mathematik / 57 Biowissenschaften; Biologie / 570 Biowissenschaften; Biologie
Peer review:Referiert
Publishing method:Open Access
License (German):License LogoKeine öffentliche Lizenz: Urheberrechtsschutz
External remark:Bibliographieeintrag der Originalveröffentlichung/Quelle
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