A genetic comparison of West Greenland and Baffin Island (Canada) walruses: Management implications
Until recently Atlantic walruses (Odobenus rosmarus rosmarus) have been subject to relatively intense exploitation in West Greenland. Animals in this stock have also been hunted in Nunavut/Canada. However, the demographic identity of these animals and their connection with walruses in neighbouring areas is poorly resolved, hampering the determination of sustainable harvest levels. It has been suggested that walruses in West Greenland are genetically linked with walruses at SE Baffin Island (Canada) where they are also hunted for subsistence purposes. To determine the relationship(s) between walruses in these areas we conducted a genetic analysis including recent samples from West Greenland, Southeast Baffin Island in western Davis Strait, Hudson Strait in Canada and Northwest Greenland in northern Baffin Bay. Seventeen microsatellite markers were applied to all samples. Walruses in West Greenland and at Southeast Baffin Island did not differ from each other and therefore may be regarded as belonging to the same stock. However, walruses in these two areas differed genetically from both Northwest Greenland and Hudson Strait walruses. These findings support (1) that there are subunits within the range of walruses in the Hudson Strait-Davis Strait-Baffin Bay region and (2) that walruses along E Baffin Island and W Greenland constitute a common population that receive some influx from Hudson Strait. Thus, sustainable catch levels in Southeast Baffin Island (Nunavut) and in West Greenland must be set in light of the finding that they belong to the same stock, which is exploited in these two areas. This requires Canadian-Greenlandic co-management of the W Greenland-SE Baffin Island walrus stock.
Authors who publish with this journal agree to the following terms:
- Authors retain copyright and grant the journal right of first publication with the work simultaneously licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License that allows others to share the work with an acknowledgement of the work's authorship and initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are able to enter into separate, additional contractual arrangements for the non-exclusive distribution of the journal's published version of the work (e.g., post it to an institutional repository or publish it in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal.
- Authors are permitted and encouraged to post their work online (e.g., in institutional repositories or on their website) prior to and during the submission process, as it can lead to productive exchanges, as well as earlier and greater citation of published work (SeeThe Effect of Open Access).