The Ice Goes, But the Walrus Show No Signs of Stress

3/15/15

 

Scientists originally worried that less ice would mean tough times for Walruses but that is not what is happening according to two researchers at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks.

 

Nicole Misarti and Laura Hostmann-Dehn have been testing bones from ancient walruses and comparing them those from modern animals and so far, Misarti says, indications are that modern walruses are not any more stressed out than their ancient relatives were.

Misarti says the bones gathered from museum collections from Fairbanks to the Smithsonian Institution tell the story of a walrus which has survived changes in climate and remained relatively happy doing it.

The evidence the two researchers have gathered indicates that pacific walruses were not always so stress free. Oddly, Laura Hostmann-Dehn says the stress occurred at a time when the animals’ population was rebounding:

The evidence from the bones also seems to indicate that modern walruses have changed their diets from what their ancestors were eating. Researchers Misarti and Hostmann-Dehn don’t think these diet changes are hurting the animals. Both Hostmann-Dehn and Misarti feel confident that walruses will find haulouts to survive climate change… just as they have in the past…. Misarti says the question is the speed with which the animals will have to adapt.

The arctic is warming at twice the rate of the rest of the planet, which is already undergoing unprecedented rates of climate change. This is something none of the species in the arctic have ever experienced in the geologic record.

 

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