11 January 2023: New paper “Origin and expansion of the world’s most widespread pinniped: Range-wide population genomics of the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina)”
In a recent paper, “Origin and expansion of the world’s most widespread pinniped: Range-wide population genomics of the harbour seal (Phoca vitulina)”, the author Xiaodong Liu in collaboration with Scientific Committee members Aqqalu Rosing-Asvid, Christian Lydersen and Sandra Magdalena Granquist, as well as many other co-authors, analysed DNA samples of harbour seals to assess the origin and expansion of this widespread species in the Northern Hemisphere.
The authors used 311 tissue samples from 286 harbour seals spanning 22 locations of the species’ geographical range, which generated a genomic data set of ~13,500 biallelic single nucleotide polymorphisms.
The results indicate that the origin of the harbour seal is the Northeast Pacific, and the North Atlantic was colonised via the Canadian Arctic. With further expansion across the North Atlantic from North America to Europe, the species sustained a loss of genetic diversity. Additionally, between modern North Pacific and North Atlantic harbour seals, the authors found a deep divergence with finer-scale genetic structure at regional and local scales consistent with strong philopatry.
You can read the study by Liu et al. here:
Learn more about harbour seals here: www.nammco.no/harbour-seal