I am a final year Double-Degree PhD student, enrolled at Bangor University and University of Copenhagen. My PhD research in ancient population genetics focuses on species-environment interactions in different ecosystems and the influence of environmental change on species extinction. The main aim of my research is to investigate the influence of climate warming on the extinction of the Great Auk. The Great Auk is a cold adapted sea bird that went extinct in the 19th century. While overhunting has likely caused its extinction, whether or not its disappearance was facilitated by stress through increasingly warm and less favourable habitats is unknown. Using a combination of palaeogenetic and palaeoenvironmental data, this project aims to reconstruct spatial and temporal population dynamics of the Great Auk and correlate them with environmental change and increasing exploitation by humans.
By integrating data from archaeology, palaeoclimatology, genetics and population biology, this multidisciplinary project will provide a powerful framework to assess the relative importance of environmental change and human hunting in the extinction of the Great Auk. The project will also help identify population genetic features characteristic for a species under immediate threat of extinction, therefore supporting conservation efforts for other arctic and subarctic bird species.