Polar bears discovered thriving regardless of loss of sea ice be offering hope for species | Animals

Polar bears have turn into the hairy face of the local weather disaster, with professionals suggesting the animals might be all however extinct in a question of many years because the Arctic sea ice they hunt from melts away.

But now researchers say they’ve discovered a gaggle of them in south-east Greenland who’re surviving regardless of a loss of sea ice for far of the yr.

The workforce say the polar bears – which seem to have been remoted from different teams for a number of hundred years – have clung on because of freshwater ice from glaciers that discharge into the ocean.

The researchers upload that regardless of expectancies of a giant decline in polar endure numbers within the Arctic, the invention gives a glimmer of hope, now not least because the stipulations in south-east Greenland lately are very similar to the ones anticipated within the top Arctic in opposition to the top of the century.

“I do think they can teach us something about where rare, small numbers of polar bears might be able to hang on in an ice-free Arctic,” stated Dr Kristin Laidre, the primary creator of the find out about from the University of Washington who labored with the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources.

Polar endure graphic

Writing within the magazine Science, Laidre and co-workers document their research of the motion, genetics and demographics of a sub-population of polar bears alongside the beach of east Greenland printed the presence of 2 distinct teams, one in every of which lives above 64 levels north, and the opposite under, within the south-east of the island.

The workforce say the latter meet the standards for a brand new sub-population of polar bears – elevating the quantity known up to now from 19 to twenty – noting the animals are essentially the most genetically remoted polar bears within the Arctic. Their actions are restricted by way of options together with the mountainous terrain and the Greenland ice sheet to the west, open water to the east and the loss of appropriate habitat to the south.

“They’re geographically, genetically and demographically isolated, meaning they’re not interacting with other bears,” stated Laidre, despite the fact that she stressed out the crowd isn’t evolving into a brand new species.

“Occasionally, there’s an immigrant that comes in and adds genetic diversity to the group,” Laidre added. “But because they are so geographically isolated, they don’t have a lot of genetic input from other polar bears from other parts of the Arctic.”

At first look, the stipulations of south-east Greenland might appear an not likely habitat for polar bears, as sea ice is provide for lower than a 3rd of a yr. But as glaciers within the fjords transfer in opposition to the sea, the ice that breaks off may give upward thrust now not best to icebergs however combination in entrance of the glacier, offering what Laidre calls a “floating landscape” from which they are able to hunt year-round.

“What we know about polar bears is that having sea ice for about 100 days a year is just way too few for bears to survive,” she stated. “The reason that they can make it in this isolated environment is that they havea supplemental ice platform.”

It isn’t the primary time polar bears had been discovered to transport alongside glacial fronts, however the workforce say the newly known team – regarded as a couple of hundred sturdy – is peculiar in that such options are crucial for his or her survival.

However, Laidre stated such habitats had been uncommon and prone to trade with international heating, whilst the small gene pool of the south-east Greenland bears might end up problematic will have to immigrant bears stop to show up.

Prof Andrew Derocher, a polar endure professional on the University of Alberta who was once now not concerned within the find out about, stated the analysis confirmed polar bears in south-east Greenland comprised a definite genetic team with isolation and inbreeding – despite the fact that he stated the loss of a hard and fast definition made it difficult to mention if it was once a brand new subpopulation.

“I suspect as the climate continues to warm in the Arctic, this study reflects a pattern that will emerge much more often: declining abundance coupled with low immigration will result in genetically distinct groups of polar bears scattered across the Arctic that with continued warming, will be extirpated over time,” he stated.

“The low body condition and birth rate reported in south-east Greenland suggests this group of bears may already be living at the edge of persistence.”

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