Friday 22 March 2019

Climate change forces Arctic animals to shift feeding habits: study

March 6, 2019
Researchers say the apparent doubling down by ringed seals on their traditional hunting grounds despite the shifting Arctic climate "reflects limited adaptability and resilience"
Seals and whales in the Arctic are shifting their feeding patterns as climate change alters their habitats, and the way they do so may determine whether they survive, a new study has found.
Researchers harnessed datasets spanning two decades to examine how two species of Arctic wildlife—beluga whales, also known as white whales, and ringed seals—are adapting to their changing homes.
Both species traditionally hunt for food in areas with sea ice and particularly at so-called tidal glacier fronts, where glaciers meet the ocean.
But with climate change melting sea ice and prompting glaciers to retreat, researchers in Norway decided to look at whether and how animals in the affected areas were adapting.
"The Arctic is the bellwether of climate change," the researchers wrote.
"With the rapid pace of change rendering genetic adaptation unfeasible," they reasoned that behavioural and dietary changes "will likely be the first observable responses within ecosystems".
They compared datasets produced by trackers attached to seals and whales over two sets of time periods.
For the seals, they compared tracker data from 28 individuals between 1996-2003 and then 2010-2016, and for the whales they looked at data from 18 animals between 1995-2001 and 16 animals from 2013-2016.

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