New study reveals how a warming planet affects male and female yaks differently
Wild Yaks: Shaggy Barometers of Climate Change
A WCS team studied wild yaks in Tibet to understand how they are impacted by climate change.
• New study reveals how a warming planet affects male and female yaks differently
• Study took place in Tibetan plateau atop the “Roof of the World”
• Authors compared historical data from last two centuries with current observations
• Findings may influence future conservation planning in this rapidly warming region
• Study appears in Nature Scientific Reports
A new study led by WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society), University of Montana, Qinghai Forestry Bureau, Keke Xili National Nature Reserve, and other groups finds that climate change and past hunting in the remote Tibetan Plateau is forcing female wild yaks onto steeper and steeper terrain.
Why? The authors say the key answer is snow, which females need for milk production to nurture their offspring. As the region warms – estimated at two-to-three-times faster than other parts of the planet – snow patches become more and more restricted often in steep post-glacial terrain.
Wild yaks are endangered and serve as living totems for the rugged Tibetan Plateau and the human cultures that live on the “roof of the world.”
The authors of the study, which appears in the March 2nd issue of the journal Nature Scientific Reports, include: Joel Berger of the University of Montana and WCS; George Schaller of Panthera; Ellen Cheng of Ugyen Wangchuck Institute for Conservation and Environment; Aili Kang and Lishu Li of WCS; and Michal Krebs and Mark Hebblewhite of the University of Montana.
While many scientists concerned with life at the planet’s edge use models to predict future change, the research team led by Dr. Joel Berger conducted ground-based field work during winter in the Keke Xili National Nature Reserve on the Tibetan Plateau. Camping in temperatures as cold as negative 24 degrees Fahrenheit when water is totally frozen and therefore unavailable to wildlife, the team found female yaks were 20 times more likely to be found adjacent to snow patches than male yaks.
In addition, the team analyzed observations of wild yaks extracted from some 60 expeditions of the Tibetan Plateau region from 1850–1925 – travels that included British, French, Swedish, German, Russian, and American explorers. Following these expeditions, wild yaks were widely slaughtered by poachers. Comparing historical records with recent data, the authors found that male and female wild yaks used similar habitat prior to the heavy poaching pressure that began in the 1930s. However, following this spike in hunting, females shifted to areas of steeper inclines suggesting greater sensitivity to hunting and a need to protect their offspring.
“What happens in the Keke Xili National Nature Reserve can provide valuable lessons as conservation planners prepare for similar climate change impact in other parts of the world,” said lead author Joel Berger of WCS and the University of Montana. “The twin findings – that the sexes of a cold-adapted species respond differently to modern climate change and long-past exploitation – indicate that effective conservation planning will require knowledge of the interplay between past and future if we will assure persistence of the region’s biodiversity.”
This study was made possible through the generous support of blue moon fund and the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration.
About the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
MISSION: WCS saves wildlife and wild places worldwide through science, conservation action, education, and inspiring people to value nature. VISION: WCS envisions a world where wildlife thrives in healthy lands and seas, valued by societies that embrace and benefit from the diversity and integrity of life on earth. To achieve our mission, WCS, based at the Bronx Zoo, harnesses the power of its Global Conservation Program in more than 60 nations and in all the world’s oceans and its five wildlife parks in New York City, visited by 4 million people annually. WCS combines its expertise in the field, zoos, and aquarium to achieve its conservation mission. Visit: www.wcs.org ; http://www.facebook.com/TheWCS ; http://www.youtube.com/user/WCSMedia Follow: @thewcs.
WCS in China: WCS began working on the Tibetan Plateau in the 1980s, and provided technical support for the creation of the massive Changtang reserve. Today WCS’s China Program works on: Amur tiger conservation in northeast China; Chinese alligator reintroduction in lower Yangtze River; combating illegal wildlife trade and trafficking in south China; and in 2013, initiated a pilot project to reduce demand in wildlife products.
CONTACT: STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; email@example.com
JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; firstname.lastname@example.org)
Executive Director of Communications
Stephen Sautner | newswise
Successful calculation of human and natural influence on cloud formation
04.11.2016 | Goethe-Universität Frankfurt am Main
Invasive Insects Cost the World Billions Per Year
04.10.2016 | University of Adelaide
In recent years, lasers with ultrashort pulses (USP) down to the femtosecond range have become established on an industrial scale. They could advance some applications with the much-lauded “cold ablation” – if that meant they would then achieve more throughput. A new generation of process engineering that will address this issue in particular will be discussed at the “4th UKP Workshop – Ultrafast Laser Technology” in April 2017.
Even back in the 1990s, scientists were comparing materials processing with nanosecond, picosecond and femtosesecond pulses. The result was surprising:...
Have you ever wondered how you see the world? Vision is about photons of light, which are packets of energy, interacting with the atoms or molecules in what...
A multi-institutional research collaboration has created a novel approach for fabricating three-dimensional micro-optics through the shape-defined formation of porous silicon (PSi), with broad impacts in integrated optoelectronics, imaging, and photovoltaics.
Working with colleagues at Stanford and The Dow Chemical Company, researchers at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign fabricated 3-D birefringent...
In experiments with magnetic atoms conducted at extremely low temperatures, scientists have demonstrated a unique phase of matter: The atoms form a new type of quantum liquid or quantum droplet state. These so called quantum droplets may preserve their form in absence of external confinement because of quantum effects. The joint team of experimental physicists from Innsbruck and theoretical physicists from Hannover report on their findings in the journal Physical Review X.
“Our Quantum droplets are in the gas phase but they still drop like a rock,” explains experimental physicist Francesca Ferlaino when talking about the...
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is opening up a new research field. A workshop from November 21 - 22, 2016 will mark the start of activities for an innovative axion experiment. Axions are still only purely hypothetical particles. Their detection could solve two fundamental problems in particle physics: What dark matter consists of and why it has not yet been possible to directly observe a CP violation for the strong interaction.
The “MADMAX” project is the MPP’s commitment to axion research. Axions are so far only a theoretical prediction and are difficult to detect: on the one hand,...
16.11.2016 | Event News
01.11.2016 | Event News
14.10.2016 | Event News
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine
07.12.2016 | Life Sciences
07.12.2016 | Health and Medicine