Category Archives: Educational

Extinction Dynamics of North America’s only Flightless Seabird: The Great Auk


Lucia Snyderman, Middlebury College research assistant
The Great Auk (Pinguinus impennis) was hunted to extinction in the year 1844. All that remains for us to piece together its extinction story are skins, bones, a few eggs, and historical testimonies. Investigating human-auk relationships and modeling extinction timing using a combination of historical and radiocarbon data across the seabird’s North Atlantic range provides insight into how its distribution contracted and why certain populations persisted longer than others. Studying the Great Auk’s range collapse also contextualizes trends for current seabirds in decline.

Producer: MCTV