Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Global Warming Linked to Caribou-Calf Mortality

05.05.2008
Fewer caribou calves are being born and more of them are dying in West Greenland as a result of a warming climate, according to Eric Post, a Penn State associate professor of biology.

Post, who believes that caribou may serve as an indicator species for climate changes including global warming, based his conclusions on data showing that the timing of peak food availability no longer corresponds to the timing of caribou births.

The study, which was conducted in collaboration with Mads Forchhammer at the University of Aarhus in Denmark, will be published in the 12 July 2008 issue of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London.

Caribou -- which are closely related to wild reindeer -- are dependent on plants for all their energy and nutrients. Throughout the long Arctic winter, when there is no plant growth, they dig through snow to find lichens; however, in spring they rapidly switch to grazing on the new growth of willows, sedges, and flowering tundra herbs. As the birth season approaches, they are cued by increasing day length to migrate into areas where this newly-emergent food is plentiful.

... more about:
»Climate »Timing »caribou »mismatch

But this routine, which has worked for millennia, is faltering because caribou are unable to keep pace with certain changes that have occurred as a result of global warming. When the animals arrive at their calving grounds now, pregnant females find that the plants on which they depend already have reached peak productivity and have begun to decline in nutritional value. According to Post, the plants -- which initiate growth in response to temperature, not day length -- are peaking dramatically earlier in response to rising temperatures. "Spring temperatures at our study site in West Greenland have risen by more than 4 degrees Celsius over the past few years," said Post. "As a result, the timing of plant growth has advanced, but calving has not."

The phenomenon, called trophic mismatch, is a predicted consequence of climate change, in which the availability of food shifts in response to warming, whereas the timing of demand for those resources does not keep pace. Trophic mismatches have been documented in birds -- with the most famous example being the study on Dutch birds and their caterpillar prey that was highlighted in former Vice President Al Gore's film An Inconvenient Truth -- but, until now, the phenomenon had not been observed in terrestrial mammals. "Our work is the first documentation of a developing trophic mismatch in a terrestrial mammal as a result of climatic warming," said Post. "And the rapidity with which this mismatch has developed is eye-opening, to say the least."

While Post and Forchhammer think it is possible that caribou will respond to a warming climate by advancing the timing of their reproduction, they are not convinced that the species will be able to compensate fully for the rapid rates of temperature change that are yet to come. "They're a little behind the game already and future warming will make it even harder for them to catch up," said Post. "This factor is just one of many related to climate change -- such as thaw-freeze cycles, ice-crust formation, and severe storms -- that may make it difficult for caribou populations to persist at their former abundance."

This research was funded by the University of Alaska, the Penn State Institutes of Energy and the Environment, and the National Geographic Society Committee for Research and Exploration.

Barbara K. Kennedy | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.psu.edu

Further reports about: Climate Timing caribou mismatch

More articles from Life Sciences:

nachricht A study demonstrates that p38 protein regulates the formation of new blood vessels
17.07.2019 | Institute for Research in Biomedicine (IRB Barcelona)

nachricht For bacteria, the neighbors co-determine which cell dies first: The physiology of survival
17.07.2019 | Technische Universität München

All articles from Life Sciences >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Megakaryocytes act as „bouncers“ restraining cell migration in the bone marrow

Scientists at the University Würzburg and University Hospital of Würzburg found that megakaryocytes act as “bouncers” and thus modulate bone marrow niche properties and cell migration dynamics. The study was published in July in the Journal “Haematologica”.

Hematopoiesis is the process of forming blood cells, which occurs predominantly in the bone marrow. The bone marrow produces all types of blood cells: red...

Im Focus: Artificial neural network resolves puzzles from condensed matter physics: Which is the perfect quantum theory?

For some phenomena in quantum many-body physics several competing theories exist. But which of them describes a quantum phenomenon best? A team of researchers from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) and Harvard University in the United States has now successfully deployed artificial neural networks for image analysis of quantum systems.

Is that a dog or a cat? Such a classification is a prime example of machine learning: artificial neural networks can be trained to analyze images by looking...

Im Focus: Extremely hard yet metallically conductive: Bayreuth researchers develop novel material with high-tech prospects

An international research group led by scientists from the University of Bayreuth has produced a previously unknown material: Rhenium nitride pernitride. Thanks to combining properties that were previously considered incompatible, it looks set to become highly attractive for technological applications. Indeed, it is a super-hard metallic conductor that can withstand extremely high pressures like a diamond. A process now developed in Bayreuth opens up the possibility of producing rhenium nitride pernitride and other technologically interesting materials in sufficiently large quantity for their properties characterisation. The new findings are presented in "Nature Communications".

The possibility of finding a compound that was metallically conductive, super-hard, and ultra-incompressible was long considered unlikely in science. It was...

Im Focus: Modelling leads to the optimum size for platinum fuel cell catalysts: Activity of fuel cell catalysts doubled

An interdisciplinary research team at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) has built platinum nanoparticles for catalysis in fuel cells: The new size-optimized catalysts are twice as good as the best process commercially available today.

Fuel cells may well replace batteries as the power source for electric cars. They consume hydrogen, a gas which could be produced for example using surplus...

Im Focus: The secret of mushroom colors

Mushrooms: Darker fruiting bodies in cold climates

The fly agaric with its red hat is perhaps the most evocative of the diverse and variously colored mushroom species. Hitherto, the purpose of these colors was...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

VideoLinks
Industry & Economy
Event News

2nd International Conference on UV LED Technologies & Applications – ICULTA 2020 | Call for Abstracts

24.06.2019 | Event News

SEMANTiCS 2019 brings together industry leaders and data scientists in Karlsruhe

29.04.2019 | Event News

Revered mathematicians and computer scientists converge with 200 young researchers in Heidelberg!

17.04.2019 | Event News

 
Latest News

Tracking down climate change with radar eyes

17.07.2019 | Earth Sciences

Researchers build transistor-like gate for quantum information processing -- with qudits

17.07.2019 | Information Technology

A new material for the battery of the future, made in UCLouvain

17.07.2019 | Materials Sciences

VideoLinks
Science & Research
Overview of more VideoLinks >>>