Posted on April 1, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
Can polar bears survive the Arctic meltdown? Photo courtesy USGS.
Arctic sea ice decline is bad news for apex predators
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FRISCO — The idea that polar bears may somehow adapt to the rapid loss of Arctic sea ice by switching to land-based food sources isn’t supported by science, according to the U.S. Geological Survey.
Some polar bears are eating berries, birds and eggs as they’re forced ashore by the retreating sea ice. But the behavior isn’t widespread and probably can’t make up for the loss of the bears’ primary prey — fatty, protein-rich ice seals, according to new research led by U.S. Geological Survey scientists. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, climate change, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, climate change, global warming, marine mammals, polar bears | Leave a comment »
Posted on March 17, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
‘These animals require sea ice …’
A polar bear on Alaska’s North Slope. Photo via Eric Regehr, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
FRISCO — Enacting more endangered species regulations isn’t enough to reduce global warming threats to ice-dependent marine mammals in the Arctic, scientists say.
In a new report published in the journal Conservation Biology, a research team called for better monitoring, increased cooperation and more study of how increasing human activity in the Arctic will affect ecosystems.
The report assesses the status of all circumpolar species and sub-populations of Arctic marine mammals, including seals, whales and polar bears and underscores the precarious state of those mammals.
“These species are not only icons of climate change, but they are indicators of ecosystem health, and key resources for humans,” said lead author Kristin Laidre, a polar scientist with the University of Washington Applied Physics Laboratory. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, climate and weather, Environment, global warming, Greenland | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, biodiversity, climate change, global warming, marine mammals, polar bears | Leave a comment »
Posted on January 9, 2015 by Bob Berwyn
The Arctic is changing, and nobody is sure if polar bears will be able to survive the impending meltdown. Photo courtesy USGS.
Arctic predators looking for areas with reliable ice
FRISCO — Polar bears are heading farther north as Arctic sea ice dwindles, scientists said this week, publishing the results of a new study that took a close look at the genetics of the 19 recognized subpopulations of polar bears.
The research found that those 19 populations can be clustered into four genetically-similar groups, corresponding to ecological and oceanographic factors. These four clusters are the Eastern Polar Basin, Western Polar Basin, Canadian Archipelago, and Southern Canada.
The study showed that the gene flow in the most recent generations of polar bears is toward the Canadian Archipelago, where sea ice is expected to persist longer than in other parts of the Arctic. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, climate change, global warming, polar bear genetics, polar bears | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 26, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Can polar bears survive the century?
Ongoing loss of sea ice threatens huge areas of habitat in Canada’s Arctic
FRISCO — Global warming is reshaping the Arctic so fast that a quarter of the world’s polar bear population is likely to be in serious trouble by the end of the century.
Vanishing sea ice and longer ice-free periods will put many of the predators at risk of starvation and reproductive failure, according to a new study led by the University of Alberta’s Stephen Hamilton.
The findings, published this week in the open-access journal PLOS ONE, used sea ice projections for the Canadian Arctic Archipelago from 2006-2100 and metrics developed from polar bear energetics modeling to gain insight into the conservation challenges for polar bears facing habitat loss. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice loss, endangered species, global warming, polar bears | Leave a comment »
Posted on November 17, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A polar bear in the Arctic. PHOTO COURTESY USGS/SUSANNE MILLER.
Is dwindling sea ice a factor?
FRISCO — Polar bear populations in the southern Beaufort Sea dropped 40 percent between 2000 and 2010, biologists say in a new study. The research suggests that survival of adult bears and cubs was especially low from 2004 to 2006, when most of the decline occurred.
“Of the 80 cubs observed in Alaska from 2004 to 2007, only 2 are known to have survived,” said Jeff Bromaghin, a U.S. Geological Survey research statistician and lead author of the study. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment | Tagged: biodiversity, climate change, Environment, global warming, polar bears | Leave a comment »
Posted on July 13, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
Data will help assess global warming impacts to Arctic wildlife
Polar bears near a U.S. Navy submarine.
FRISCO — The latest generation of high-resolution satellite images may help scientists gain a better understanding of Arctic polar bear populations. Dwindling Arctic sea ice is seen a huge threat to the predators, but difficult field conditions make it challenging to get a clear picture of polar bear population dynamics.
Satellite images have also been used recently to track emperor penguins in Antarctica, and researchers are starting to rely on satellite images more and more. In a new study, U.S. Geological Survey biologists matched satellite surveys with ground-truthed counts. Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, Environment, global warming, wildlife | Tagged: Arctic, Digital Globe, polar bears, wildlife | 2 Comments »
Posted on January 24, 2014 by Bob Berwyn
A polar bear roams a coastal strand. Photo courtesy Susanne Miller, USFWS.
Studies show changing foraging behavior
By Summit Voice
FRISCO — A shared genetic heritage with brown bears may enable some polar bears to adapt as their icy Arctic hunting grounds shrink in the face of global warming.
As Arctic sea ice dwindles, polar bears have a limited amount of time to hunt their historically preferred prey — ringed seal pups — and must spend more time on land.
But polar bears in the western Hudson Bay region are using flexible foraging strategies while on land, such as prey-switching and eating a mixed diet of plants and animals, as they survive in their rapidly changing environment.
“There is little doubt that polar bears are very susceptible as global climate change continues to drastically alter the landscape of the northern polar regions,” said Robert Rockwell, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History’s department of ornithology. “But we’re finding that they might be more resilient than is commonly thought.” Continue reading
Filed under: Arctic, biodiversity, climate and weather, endangered species, Environment, global warming | Tagged: Arctic sea ice, climate change, endangered species, global warming, polar bears | 2 Comments »