such as "Introduction", "Conclusion"..etc
April 2007 — You may well ask the
question, where did the animals and plants of modern day Ireland and
Britain come from? Published in the journal, Proceedings of the Royal
Society, scientists at Queen’s University Belfast have uncovered
evidence that stoats survived in Ireland at the coldest point of the
last Ice Age, 23,500 years ago.
The research has revealed that despite few animals or plants
surviving the millennia of freezing cold and ice, the Irish stoats had
real staying power. The Irish lineage of these small carnivores that
eat mice, rabbits and birds is unique according to the research.
The scientists reached their conclusions by studying the wiry mammal’s DNA collected from museum collections and gamekeepers.
Explaining the research findings, Dr Robbie McDonald, Manager of
Quercus at Queen’s, explained: “These tenacious carnivores probably
survived the extreme cold at the peak of the last Ice Age by living
under the snow and eating lemmings, just as they do in Greenland today.
“Irish stoats are a diverse and ancient lineage, this study provides
the first compelling evidence that a species of mammal found in Ireland
today actually survived throughout the worst of the Ice Age weather.
“The Irish fauna is a very unusual mix of native and introduced
species, but we tend to overlook the unique nature of the Irish gene
pool of many species, such as stoats and hares. This work helps
identify which species should be a priority for conserving the Irish
Genetic research has found that the Irish lineage of stoats is about
23,500 years old, compared to the British lineage, which is about
12,000 years old.
Stoats are found over a wide range of temperature conditions ranging
from warm temperate to arctic. While they currently occur in the high
Arctic of Greenland and Canada, feeding on lemmings, it is known from
fossils that lemmings survived in Ireland providing a potential food
supply during the Last Glacial Maximum (LGM).
Using genetic techniques the scientists used a total of 197 tissue
and skin samples collected from stoats from 153 localities in Eurasia
and Greenland which yielded definite sequences.
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