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Team Tracks Baltic Herring Population Patterns With Ancient, Modern DNA Sequences

For a paper appearing in PNAS this week, a team at the University of Oslo, Nicolaus Copernicus University, and other European centers retrace population patterns for herring in the Baltic Sea, where the fish trade appears to go back to the Viking Age. Using new and published whole-genome sequencing, the researchers assessed genome-wide sequence patterns in 40 ancient herring samples going back nearly 1,300 years from sites in Denmark, Poland, or Estonia and 68 representatives from present-day herring populations in the Baltic or Atlantic regions, following the demographic changes, genomic shifts, and adaptations that accompanied environmental changes and more intense fishery-related pressures. "Our results illustrate the importance of including knowledge regarding long-term population dynamics, including differential stock responses to climate change, in sustainable management strategies, as efforts to achieve food security by aquaculture- and marine-based industries are demanding ever-increasing resources from the oceans," the authors write.