The great auk was once abundant and distributed across the North Atlantic. It is now extinct, hav ... Read more
The great auk was once abundant and distributed across the North Atlantic. It is now extinct, having been heavily exploited for its eggs, meat, and feathers. We investigated the impact of human hunting on its demise by integrating genetic data, GPS-based ocean current data, and analyses of population viability. We sequenced complete mitochondrial genomes of 41 individuals from across the species’ geographic range and reconstructed population structure and population dynamics throughout the Holocene. Taken together, our data do not provide any evidence that great auks were at risk of extinction prior to the onset of intensive human hunting in the early 16th century. In addition, our population viability analyses reveal that even if the great auk had not been under threat by environmental change, human hunting alone could have been sufficient to cause its extinction. Our results emphasise the vulnerability of even abundant and widespread species to intense and localised exploitation.
The practices of preparing traditional foods in the Arctic are rapidly disappearing. Traditional ... Read more
The practices of preparing traditional foods in the Arctic are rapidly disappearing. Traditional foods of the Arctic represent a rarity among food studies in that they are meat-sourced and prepared in non-industrial settings. These foods, generally consumed without any heating step prior to consumption, harbor an insofar undescribed microbiome. The food-associated microbiomes have implications not only with respect to disease risk, but might also positively influence host health by transferring a yet unknown diversity of live microbes to the human gastrointestinal tract. Here we report the first study of the microbial composition of traditionally dried fish prepared according to Greenlandic traditions and their industrial counterparts. We show that dried capelin prepared according to traditional methods have microbiomes clearly different from industrially prepared capelin, which also have more homogenous microbiomes than traditionally prepared capelin. Interestingly, the locally preferred type of traditionally dried capelin, described to be tastier than other traditionally dried capelin, contains bacteria that potentially confer distinct taste. Finally, we show that dried cod have comparably more homogenous microbiomes when compared to capelin and that in general, the environment of drying is a major determinant of the microbial composition of these indigenous food products.