North America is currently home to a number of grey wolf (Canis lupus) and wolf-like canid popula ... Read more
North America is currently home to a number of grey wolf (Canis lupus) and wolf-like canid populations, including the coyote (Canis latrans) and the taxonomically controversial red, Eastern timber and Great Lakes wolves. We explored their population structure and regional gene flow using a dataset of 40 full genome sequences that represent the extant diversity of North American wolves and wolf-like canid populations. This included 15 new genomes (13 North American grey wolves, 1 red wolf and 1 Eastern timber/Great Lakes wolf), ranging from 0.4 to 15x coverage. In addition to providing full genome support for the previously proposed coyote-wolf admixture origin for the taxonomically controversial red, Eastern timber and Great Lakes wolves, the discriminatory power offered by our dataset suggests all North American grey wolves, including the Mexican form, are monophyletic, and thus share a common ancestor to the exclusion of all other wolves. Furthermore, we identify three distinct populations in the high arctic, one being a previously unidentified “Polar wolf” population endemic to Ellesmere Island and Greenland. Genetic diversity analyses reveal particularly high inbreeding and low heterozygosity in these Polar wolves, consistent with long-term isolation from the other North American wolves.
The demographic history of Greenland is characterized by recurrent migrations and extinctions sin ... Read more
The demographic history of Greenland is characterized by recurrent migrations and extinctions since the first humans arrived 4,500 years ago. Our current understanding of these extinct cultures relies primarily on preserved fossils found in their archaeological deposits, which hold valuable information on past subsistence practices. However, some exploited taxa, though economically important, comprise only a small fraction of these sub-fossil assemblages. Here we reconstruct a comprehensive record of past subsistence economies in Greenland by sequencing ancient DNA from four well-described midden deposits. Our results confirm that the species found in the fossil record, like harp seal and ringed seal, were a vital part of Inuit subsistence, but also add a new dimension with evidence that caribou, walrus and whale species played a more prominent role for the survival of Paleo-Inuit cultures than previously reported. Most notably, we report evidence of bowhead whale exploitation by the Saqqaq culture 4,000 years ago.
Climate and topography in West Greenland along a vast west-to-east transect from the ocean and fj ... Read more
Climate and topography in West Greenland along a vast west-to-east transect from the ocean and fjords to the ice sheet contains evidence of 4200 years of human history. Fisher-hunter-gatherer cultures have created an organically evolved and continuing cultural landscape based on hunting of land and sea animals, seasonal migrations and settlement patterns, and a rich and well-preserved material and intangible cultural heritage. Large communal winter houses and evidence of communal hunting of caribou via hides and drive systems are distinctive characteristics, along with archaeological sites from the Saqqaq (2500-700 BC), Dorset (800 BC-1 AD), Thule Inuit (from the 13th century) and colonial periods (from the 18th century). The cultural landscape is presented through the histories and landscapes of seven key localities from Nipisat in the west, to Aasivissuit, near the ice cap, in the east. The attributes of the property include buildings, structures, archaeological sites and artefacts associated with the history of the human occupation of the landscape; the landforms and ecosystems of the ice cap, fjords, lakes; natural resources, such as caribou, and other plant and animal species that support the hunting and fishing cultural practices; and the Inuit intangible cultural heritage and traditional knowledge of the environment, weather, navigation, shelter, foods and medicines.