The Global Warming and associated climate changes are there for everyone to see. A lot of research has been conducted on how the climate changes will affect the Polar Regions. Unabated global warming and climate degradation will also affect the fauna of the Polar Regions and the most prominent being the Polar Bear. The scientific community is divided on this question.
Researchers under the guidance of biologist Karen Rode, from the US Geological Survey research wildlife found that polar bears were increasingly forced to live on land as the sea ice around the Polar Regions are disappearing at a very fast rate. Polar Bears are marine mammals and spend a major portion of their life on sea ice while feasting on fat rich seal meat. The endeavor also got support from the Polar Bear International and Washington State University.
The scientists have concluded that polar bears are being deprived of their regular seal diet which is rich in lipids and have started adapting themselves to a new land-based habitat for food.
If the dependency of the polar bears on the land increases in a healthy way, then the chances of survival will also increase especially with a warming planet Earth which in turn will trigger melt down of even more sea ice. However this is not the case with marine animals.
Steven Amstrup, study co-author, the chief scientist at Polar Bear International and a retired polar bear expert at USGS, said, “This paper establishes in no uncertain terms that polar bears are very unlikely to be able to make a living on land, and that if we don’t save the sea ice, polar bears will indeed be gone.”
However Rode’s viewpoint is not universally accepted and there are many experts who have divergent views.
One among them is Robert Rockwell, a population biologist and an ecologist at City College of New York who said that he has seen marine animals getting adapted to a land-based diet by eating goose eggs and caribou calves.
Rode is still skeptical about the smooth transformation of marine animals to a land based diet and opined that it will be very hard to satisfy the energy requirements.
The details of the study were published on Wednesday in the journal Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment.