Polar bears struggling to find food in Arctic hunting grounds
02 February, 2018, 21:49 | Author: Carmen Reese
"We found that they were really dependent on their ability to catch seals", Mr. Pagano said.
For now, the study demonstrates that bears' energy demands are likely higher than expected-meaning they require more food to survive than previously thought-and that failure to catch seals can result in rapid, significant weight loss.
The study shows that global warming is the reason which has treaten their existence and stopping them from hunting seals during spring. "As a result, bears showed remarkable fluctuations in body mass based on their foraging success, emphasizing the feast or starvation lifestyle of these animals".
"We've been documenting declines in polar bear survival rates, body condition, and population numbers over the past decade".
Previous studies estimate the mortality of male polar bears would increase from 6 per cent to 48 per cent if fasting periods increased from 120 days to 180 days. He plans to track the polar bears' activities over the entire year to work out whether and how their energy needs change. The study suggests that as Arctic sea ice diminishes and becomes more fragmented, it will further impact the energetic balance of polar bears by reducing their access to seal prey and by increasing their cost of travel. As sea ice continues to decline, frequent and timely monitoring of polar-bear subpopulations across Canada will be necessary to ensure co-management boards can make informed decisions. The team was marked them with Global Positioning System collar to record videos of their movements and hunting style. Spring, just before the sea ice begins its seasonal breakup, is a critical time for polar bears to gain the weight they need to carry them through until the sea ice re-forms, so the researchers tracked the bears in April of 2014, 2015 and 2016. And yet they are uniquely vulnerable in their nearly total reliance on one prey species.
Biologists at the University of California, Santa Cruz, monitored the behaviour, hunting success and metabolic rates of adult female polar bears without cubs as they hunted for prey on the sea ice of the Beaufort Sea, in the Arctic Ocean, in the spring. The study shows If the bears don't eat that amount of food, they will lose weight quickly. As a leader in conservation, the work of San Diego Zoo Global includes on-site wildlife conservation efforts (representing both plants and animals) at the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research, as well as worldwide field programs on six continents.
"An increasing proportion of bears are unable to meet their energy demands", the authors concluded.
By catching their favourite prey - ringed seals - every 10 to 12 days, a female polar bear will maintain weight levels of around 450lbs, yet the challenge of fulfilling a consumption rate of 220 Big Macs over this short period is becoming increasingly fraught. "I am still optimistic that the species will make it".
"In a population, there are always individuals who cope better or worse with any changes".
Data collected from the activity trackers confirmed that polar bears needed more calories the further they walked.
Fickel points out that the species has seen many warmer periods during their existence, and that they might be able to adjust to a warmer world - as long as there is a healthy seal population, that is. Bears are also doing a lot more swimming as the sea ice declines, said Derocher. In 2007, the scientists had predicted that if humans will keep pumping heat into the atmosphere, by 2050 around two-third polar bears will go extinct. Its content is created separately from USA TODAY.
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