We might someday have to do just that, Cornell University conservation scientist Jeff Wells warns.
Wells, a visiting fellow at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, is warning that the beloved animals of Christmas folklore are in severe decline thanks to global warming and industrial development in their boreal forest homes.
Wells is a science advisor for Pew Environment Group's International Boreal Conservation Campaign and formerly the Audubon Society's national conservation director. Now a senior scientist for the Boreal Songbird Initiative, Wells warns that the numbers of caribou, as reindeer are known in North America, will continue to drop unless this key habitat is protected.
Circling the northern latitudes of the Earth, caribou thrive in cold climates. They are tough, adaptable creatures that can survive in winter by eating only lichens. But when the health of their habitats are threatened, Wells said, so too is the health of the herd.
While some caribou live in large migratory groups, many remain year-round within the Canadian boreal, the world's largest remaining intact forest. Wells said in Ontario the species range has retracted at a rate of two miles a year, resulting in the loss of half of the province's woodland caribou range. Sixty percent has been lost in Alberta, and 40 percent in British Columbia.
More recently, massive declines in the numbers of the barren-ground, long-distance migratory caribou have been recorded; with some herds dropping as much as 90 percent. One herd, for example, went from an estimated 472,000 in 1986 to 128,000 by 2006.
Wells attributes much of this to industrial development, especially in the woodland caribou, which are known to be highly sensitive to habitat changes. Add the fact that so many barren-ground herds across the globe are at such low numbers at the same time makes Wells concerned that the twin threats of global warming and industrial activities have had a major negative impact on herd survival.
Protecting caribou habitats would also help combat climate change, Wells says, noting that his research, published in the report, “The Carbon the World Forgot” and in the July/August 2010 edition of Forestry Chronicle finds that the Canadian boreal stores more than 208 billion tons of carbon – 26 years worth of global carbon emissions from the burning of fossil fuels.
In addition to the ecological crisis, Wells notes that the disappearance of the caribou would be a cultural catastrophe for many indigenous populations.
"It would be the loss of their identity and a severing of a vital link to their ancestral past," Wells said.
John Carberry | Newswise Science News
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