Video | Business Headlines | Internet | Science | Scientific Ethics | Technology | Search

 


Research reveals New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer


NZ Sea Lion. Photo: Louise Chilvers

Research reveals New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer
Embargoed until 11am Wednesday 14 May 2014

The modern New Zealand sea lion is a relative newcomer to our mainland, replacing a now-extinct, unique prehistoric New Zealand sea-lion that once lived here, according to a new study led by University of Otago researchers.

A team of biologists from the University of Otago estimates that this prehistoric mainland sea-lion population became extinct as recently as 600 years ago, and was then replaced by a lineage previously limited to the waters of the cold subantarctic.

The Marsden-funded study, carried out by Otago Zoology PhD student Catherine Collins, and led by Professor Jon Waters, set out to investigate changes in the New Zealand sea-lion population since human settlement.

Ms Collins says they were startled to identify a previously unknown sea-lion lineage that dominated South Island shores until just a few hundred years ago.

“It is estimated that the mainland sea-lions became extinct between 1300 and
1500AD, soon after Polynesian settlement, and midden remains suggest they were hunted extensively. The extinction apparently created an opportunity for the subantarctic lineage to colonise New Zealand’s mainland," she says.

The team identified the extinct mainland sea-lion lineage using ancient DNA from prehistoric bones.

“We found that the extinct mainland population was clearly genetically distinct from the modern subantarctic population that arrived more recently,” she says.

The unexpected finding closely mirrors a prehistoric extinction-replacement event for yellow-eyed penguins, recently detected by the same team led by Professor Waters.

“Our findings demonstrate that our current sea-lion population is not a declining remnant of an original mainland population, but rather represents a new arrival from the subantarctic,” he says.

“Competition between the two lineages may have previously prevented the subantarctic lineage from expanding northwards to the mainland of New Zealand."

Professor Waters adds that all they know for certain about the attributes of this prehistoric sea-lion is that it was genetically distinct from the modern sea-lion lineage. He anticipates that future study of the prehistoric remains will lead to a greater understanding of its biology.

The team’s findings have been published today in the international biological
research journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences.

ENDS

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Business Headlines | Sci-Tech Headlines

 

Cosmetics & Pollution: Proposal To Ban Microbeads

Cosmetic products containing microbeads will be banned under a proposal announced by the Minister for the Environment today. Marine scientists have been advocating for a ban on the microplastics, which have been found to quickly enter waterways and harm marine life. More>>

ALSO:

NIWA: 2016 New Zealand’s Warmest Year On Record

Annual temperatures were above average (0.51°C to 1.20°C above the annual average) throughout the country, with very few locations observing near average temperatures (within 0.5°C of the annual average) or lower. The year 2016 was the warmest on record for New Zealand, based on NIWA’s seven-station series which begins in 1909. More>>

ALSO:

Farewell 2016: NZ Economy Flies Through 2016's Political Curveballs

Dec. 23 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy batted away some curly political curveballs of 2016 to end the year on a high note, with its twin planks of a booming construction sector and rampant tourism soon to be joined by a resurgent dairy industry. More>>

ALSO:


NZ Economy: More Growth Than Expected In 3rd Qtr

Dec. 22 (BusinessDesk) - New Zealand's economy grew at a faster pace than expected in the September quarter as a booming construction sector continued to underpin activity, spilling over into related building services, and was bolstered by tourism and transport ... More>>

  • NZ Govt - Solid growth for NZ despite fragile world economy
  • NZ Council of Trade Unions - Government needs to ensure economy raises living standards
  • KiwiRail Goes Deisel: Cans electric trains on partially electrified North Island trunkline

    Dec. 21 (BusinessDesk) – KiwiRail, the state-owned rail and freight operator, said a small fleet of electric trains on New Zealand’s North Island would be phased out over the next two years and replaced with diesel locomotives. More>>

  • KiwiRail - KiwiRail announces fleet decision on North Island line
  • Greens - Ditching electric trains massive step backwards
  • Labour - Bill English turns ‘Think Big’ into ‘Think Backwards’
  • First Union - Train drivers condemn KiwiRail’s return to “dirty diesel”
  • NZ First - KiwiRail Going Backwards for Xmas
  • NIWA: The Year's Top Science Findings

    Since 1972 NIWA has operated a Clean Air Monitoring Station at Baring Head, near Wellington... In June, Baring Head’s carbon dioxide readings officially passed 400 parts per million (ppm), a level last reached more than three million years ago. More>>

    ALSO:

    Get More From Scoop

     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    Sci-Tech
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news