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Multiple prehistoric introductions of the mountain hare (Lepus timidus) on a remote island, as revealed by ancient DNA
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-9707-5206
Stockholm University, Faculty of Science, Department of Zoology.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-5535-9086
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-5911-9503
2016 (English)In: Journal of Biogeography, ISSN 0305-0270, E-ISSN 1365-2699, Vol. 43, no 9, p. 1786-1796Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Aim: The majority of the non-volant mammals now present on the island of Gotland, Sweden, have been introduced in modern times. One exception is the mountain hare (Lepus timidus), which was present on the island more than 9000 years ago. This paper investigates the origins of the Gotland hares and temporal changes in their genetic structure, and considers how they may have reached the island.

Location: The island of Gotland, Sweden (57°30′ N, 18°20′ E).

Methods: Two fragments of the mitochondrial D-loop 130 + 164 base pairs in length from skeletal remains from 40 ancient mountain hares from Gotland, 38 from the Swedish mainland and five from Lithuania were analysed and compared with 90 modern L. timidus haplotypes from different locations in Eurasia and five haplotypes of the Don-hare (Lepus tanaiticus) morphotype.

Results: The Mesolithic hares from Gotland (7304 bc–5989 bc) cluster with modern hares from Russia, Scotland, the Alps and Fennoscandia whereas the Gotland hares from the Neolithic and onwards (2848 bc–1641 ad) cluster with Neolithic hares from the Swedish mainland and modern hares from Fennoscandia. The Neolithic haplotypes from Lithuania and the Don-hare haplotypes were dispersed within the network. The level of differentiation (FST) between the Mesolithic and Neolithic hares on Gotland was twice as great as that observed on the mainland.

Main conclusions: The ancient hares on Gotland fall into two haplogroups separated in time, indicating that the mountain hare became extinct at one point, with subsequent re-colonization events. In view of the isolated location of Gotland, it is probable that the hares were brought there by human means of transport.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2016. Vol. 43, no 9, p. 1786-1796
Keywords [en]
ancient DNA, Gotland, Lepus timidus, phylogeography, Stone Age, translocation
National Category
History and Archaeology Biological Sciences
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-132159DOI: 10.1111/jbi.12759ISI: 000383536300009OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-132159DiVA, id: diva2:949776
Available from: 2016-07-23 Created: 2016-07-23 Last updated: 2022-02-23Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Prehistoric human impact on wild mammalian populations in Scandinavia
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Prehistoric human impact on wild mammalian populations in Scandinavia
2021 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to study the interactions of pre-agricultural societies in Scandinavia with wild mammals, for example in terms of hunting and translocation. More specifically, the aim is to investigate the possibility of identifying examples of overexploitation, targeted hunting or translocation of wild mammals in prehistoric Scandinavia, and to discuss the implications this could have had for both the wild animals and the humans. The thesis also studies translocation to evaluate the feasibility of using it as a proxy for prehistoric human mobility, and to understand the motivation for this action. 

Although the focus is on the animals in this thesis, the ultimate purpose is to study humans and their interactions with animals in prehistory. The thesis applies genetic analyses to zooarchaeological material of various mammalian species from different Scandinavian sites, in order to study whether the genetic structures have changed in these species over time, and to assess whether these changes were induced by different human actions. The species studied in this thesis were selected on the basis of the importance they are considered to have had for prehistoric people.

The dissertation comprises five studies. The first study investigates the occurrence of mountain hares on the island of Gotland, and discusses how they got there and where they came from. The second study explores the temporal genetic structure of the grey seal in the Baltic Sea, and discusses whether humans and/or climate were the drivers for the sudden disappearance of grey seals from the island of Stora Karlsö. The third study concerns a shift where moose apparently became less important as prey in northern Sweden at the end of the Neolithic period, and discusses whether humans targeted female moose in hunting. The fourth study analyses and discusses the history of the harp seal in the Baltic Sea. The fifth study is a methodological paper which involves identifying seals according to sex, using the dog genome.

The overall result of the different case studies shows that there were major population fluctuations over time in all the species studied, and that in some cases, humans are likely to have contributed to this, e.g. through overhunting and translocation. The study also shows that the population fluctuations often occurred in connection with certain climatic events, though it was not possible to separate climatic effects from human impact in terms of the cause.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Stockholm University, 2021. p. 85
Series
Theses and papers in scientific archaeology, ISSN 1400-7835 ; 21
Keywords
hunter-gatherers, Baltic Sea, Mesolithic period, grey seal, harp seal, mountain hare, moose, ancient DNA, hunting, translocation
National Category
Archaeology
Research subject
Scientific Archaeology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-196043 (URN)978-91-7911-592-0 (ISBN)978-91-7911-593-7 (ISBN)
Public defence
2021-10-15, Nordenskiöldsalen, Geovetenskapens hus, Svante Arrhenius väg 12 and online via Zoom, public link is available at the department website, Stockholm, 10:00 (Swedish)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2021-09-22 Created: 2021-08-31 Last updated: 2022-02-25Bibliographically approved

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Ahlgren, HansNorén, KarinAngerbjörn, AndersLidén, Kerstin

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