Greenland polar bears are adapted to hunt through freshwater ice in response to the loss of sea ice caused by climate change.

A group of hundreds of polar bears in southeastern Greenland are examples of animals that adapt to climate change-induced sea ice loss, with lizards waiting outside their prey’s breathing holes in blocks of freshwater ice floating from glaciers. Often catches


June 16, 2022

Polar bear

Thomas.W. Johansen / Kristinlaid reetal.

Group of Polar bear Southeastern Greenland is adapted to hunt through freshwater ice blocks Glacier When sea ice recedes in the warmer months. This suggests that animals may be more resilient to climate change than we thought. Sea ice It continues to be the greatest threat to their survival.

Polar bears often hunt seals by waiting near holes in the ice blocks where their prey floats to breathe. Seals are also slower on ice than underwater, giving polar bears an advantage.But this is threatened by Climate change And the resulting loss of sea ice. As a result, animals are projected to decline by 30% in the next three generations of polar bears, about 35 years.

“We provide evidence of a previously undocumented, highly isolated subpopulation that polar bears survive in a special way on the southeastern coast of Greenland.” Christine Reidre At the University of Washington in Seattle. “They have access to glacier ice where they can hunt, so they survive in ice-free fjords for more than a year and eight months.”

Raidre and her colleagues analyzed polar bear gene samples tracked from 2015 to 2019 and combined them with data from previous studies. In their first discovery, they found that hundreds of polar bears in southeastern Greenland were the most genetically isolated of their species.

While tracking these animals, the team also hunted this genetically isolated group through a floating block of freshwater ice separated from the glacier for about 250 days a year when the sea ice melted. I found. This will allow bears to live in areas that are free of sea ice, perhaps much longer than other polar bear habitats.

This suggests that all polar bears are more elastic than previously thought, but glacier ice is primarily limited to animals around Greenland and Svalbard.

“Glacier ice can help a small number of polar bears survive for a long time in climate warming and may be important to prevent extinction, but it is not available to the majority of polar bears,” Reidre said. say.

“Climate change is one of the most important things for the future of polar bears. Most polar bears in the Arctic rely on sea ice.”

according to Todd Atwood The results of the U.S. Geological Survey said, “We hope that polar bears will be able to use other Lefusia habitats, significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and survive until sea ice habitats are restored. Provides light. “

“However, [wild] Polar bear populations ultimately depend on the conservation of sea ice habitats. To do this, we need to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. “

Genetically isolated bears may have adapted to hunting through freshwater ice, but this does not protect them from the effects of climate change.

“I think the Achilles tendon of bears in this group will continue to warm up, negatively impacting the ringed seal population in the region. If the ringed seals have no breeding habitat, the bear’s main prey may disappear. There is. ” Andrew de Roche At the University of Alberta, Canada.

Journal reference: Chemistry, DOI: 10.1126 / science.abk2793

Details of these topics: Greenland polar bears are adapted to hunt through freshwater ice in response to the loss of sea ice caused by climate change.

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