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; firstname.lastname@example.org
JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; email@example.com)
Executive Director of Communications
Stephen Sautner | newswise
New mathematical model can help save endangered species
14.01.2019 | University of Southern Denmark
Foxes in the city: citizen science helps researchers to study urban wildlife
14.12.2018 | Veterinärmedizinische Universität Wien
The scientific and political community alike stress the importance of German Antarctic research
Joint Press Release from the BMBF and AWI
The Antarctic is a frigid continent south of the Antarctic Circle, where researchers are the only inhabitants. Despite the hostile conditions, here the Alfred...
World first experiments on sensor that may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles
The new sensor - capable of detecting vibrations of living cells - may revolutionise everything from medical devices to unmanned vehicles.
Dead and alive at the same time? Researchers at the Max Planck Institute of Quantum Optics have implemented Erwin Schrödinger’s paradoxical gedanken experiment employing an entangled atom-light state.
In 1935 Erwin Schrödinger formulated a thought experiment designed to capture the paradoxical nature of quantum physics. The crucial element of this gedanken...
Cellulose obtained from wood has amazing material properties. Empa researchers are now equipping the biodegradable material with additional functionalities to produce implants for cartilage diseases using 3D printing.
It all starts with an ear. Empa researcher Michael Hausmann removes the object shaped like a human ear from the 3D printer and explains:
The phenomenon of so-called superlubricity is known, but so far the explanation at the atomic level has been missing: for example, how does extremely low friction occur in bearings? Researchers from the Fraunhofer Institutes IWM and IWS jointly deciphered a universal mechanism of superlubricity for certain diamond-like carbon layers in combination with organic lubricants. Based on this knowledge, it is now possible to formulate design rules for supra lubricating layer-lubricant combinations. The results are presented in an article in Nature Communications, volume 10.
One of the most important prerequisites for sustainable and environmentally friendly mobility is minimizing friction. Research and industry have been dedicated...
16.01.2019 | Event News
14.01.2019 | Event News
12.12.2018 | Event News
18.01.2019 | Materials Sciences
18.01.2019 | Life Sciences
18.01.2019 | Health and Medicine