Øystein and Lutz have worked for many years together with international partners on the genetic differentiation of bowhead whale stocks with particular emphasis on the Spitsbergen stock. The Svalbard bowhead whale population is currently classified as ‘Endangered’ by The International Union of Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Extensive hunting, commencing in the early 17thcentury, drove this population from an estimated population size somewhere between 25,000 and 100,000 individuals to commercial extinction.
The paper ‘Mitogenomics and the genetic differentiation of contemporary Balaena mysticetus (Cetacea) from Svalbard’ published in the Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society provides mitogenomic data on contemporary bowhead whales and use the data for reconstructing the population history of the Spitsbergen stock that was found in line with a boom-bust scenario, combining a slight Pleistocene population growth 25,000-35,000 years ago with a Holocene decline. It could also be concluded that the Svalbard bowhead whales can be regarded as a population with its own genetic legacy.
The paper was published open access, and can be found here.
Text in the teaser: We do research on the very small as well as the very big ones. On December 20th we will reveal some results we obtained for the latter this year.
Picture in the teaser: