Invasive or endemic? Management implications of archaeological data in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge
The Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge maintains more than 2000 islands, where invasive species management and eradication are the focus of conservation and landscape reconstruction efforts. While written records from the Russian and American eras document the introduction of many species, including red fox (Vulpes vulpes), arctic fox (Alopex lagopus), and cattle (Bos taurus), little is known about the introduction and dispersal of the arctic ground squirrel (Spermophilus paryii) in this island region. The ground squirrel has, however, been the focus of eradication efforts in the Gulf of Alaska. Here, we move beyond written records by using AMS dating and ancient DNA analysis of archaeological faunal material to describe the long-term history of the ground squirrel on Chirikof Island, Alaska. The results suggest that rather than a being recent introduction, the ground squirrel has been on Chirikof for at least 2000 years. Furthermore, aDNA analysis demonstrates genetic continuity between archaeological and modern specimens, suggesting the population of squirrels on Chirikof arrived before Russian or European occupation. These data have altered the eradication plans for Chirikof and demonstrated the significance of archaeological data in the context of contemporary landscape management.
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Invasive or endemic? Management implications of archaeological data in the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. Catherine West, Courtney Hofman, Steven Ebbert. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 395444)
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