Human Impact on North Atlantic Biota: Farming and Farm Animals, Fishing, Sealing and Whaling

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


This chapter explores the profound impact of farming on North Atlantic vertebrate biota, reviewing evidence for the introduction of domesticated faunas and of the irrevocable changes to the island landscapes and environments effected in particular by pastoralism and the exploitation of marine resources. The North Atlantic islands have different settlement histories. There is a continuous record of farming communities in Orkney and Shetland from the mid third millennium BCE onwards. The chapter discusses that some of the ways people have exploited the seas around the North Atlantic islands from the arrival of the Vikings onwards, thus focusing on the centuries in which humans have had a long-lasting and sustained impact on the fauna of the sea. The distinctive treeless landscapes of the North Atlantic islands are largely a product of the farming practices associated with the management of the imported domestic livestock.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationBiogeography in the Sub‐Arctic
Subtitle of host publicationThe Past and Future of North Atlantic Biota
EditorsEva Panagiotakopulu, Jon Sadler
Place of PublicationChichester
PublisherJohn Wiley & Sons Inc.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Print)9781118561478
Publication statusPublished - 20 Apr 2021


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