How are heating temperatures and also a loss of sea ice influencing polar bears and their aquatic creature prey in the Arctic? A York University-led research team utilized an unique strategy to the question by monitoring what polar bears consume across Nunavut and also where they are catching their victim.
They discovered that polar bears can be made use of as indicators of ecological shifts and highlight how these changes are interrupting the normal distribution of aquatic creature victim populations in the Arctic.
The researchers, including Faculty of Science PhD Candidate Melissa Galicia, that led the study, as well as Teacher Gregory Thiemann of the Professors of Environmental and Urban Change, have discovered polar bears, originally believed to consume generally ringed and also bearded seals, are in fact adaptable eaters. They will certainly eat what’s readily available as well as this makes them excellent as a monitoring device to track ecological adjustments in the Arctic.
“Polar births need the sea ice to hunt. When there is a decrease in the sea ice, they’re hunting much less or they’re potentially hunting various victim varieties,” says Galicia. “Victim species, like whales and also seals, additionally require certain habitat conditions and due to environmental changes in the Arctic, some marine creatures, such as victim species of bears, are redistributing. You’re getting a boost in more sub-Arctic varieties, like killer whales as an example.”
The scientists evaluated harvest samples of polar bears from across Nunavut, offered by subsistence seekers over a duration of about 8 years, and also determined spatial locations of victim varieties. The research recommends polar bear diet might provide early evidence of changes in the circulation of animals due to climate adjustment.
“I’m getting a big geographical representation of bears, specifically in locations that tend to be much less researched,” claims Galicia, who had the ability to evaluate the fats, such as omega twos and also omega 6s, in the fat cells of bears.
“Each bear will certainly have a certain fat signature, a sort of finger print for specific bears and also due to that you can see what that specific person is eating and also what percent of their diet that represents.”
They found bowhead whale carcasses were progressively becoming extra typical in polar bear diet regimen potentially linked to killer whales venturing additional north as well as staying for longer amount of times.
The researchers state adjustments prompted by a warming environment– the Arctic environment is experiencing climate heating up to 3 times faster than any kind of other region– will likely compel extensive varieties redistribution, specifically in polar settings. The polar bears in Nunavut aren’t experiencing climate modifications to the same degree as some subpopulations in western Hudson’s Bay or Beaufort Sea areas, however inevitably that will likely alter.
“As temperatures throughout the Arctic cozy as well as sea ice loss increases, there will be extensive cascading environmental consequences. What’s not understood is just how that will impact species, such as seals and whales, but by keeping an eye on the seasonal victim consumption of polar bears, scientists can better track where marine animal target species are appearing as well as their seasonal distribution,” says Thiemann.
There is currently little details on the abundance and also circulation of aquatic animals across the Arctic so this research uses a means to gain more insight and also highlight potential range changes.
The researchers claim future studies of polar bear diet regimens need to include target species not usually found in the region as well as assist predict the intensity and also influence of climate-induced change
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