An odd remoted group of polar bears found in Greenland

A Southeast Greenland polar bear on a glacier or freshwater ice at 61 degrees north in September 2016.

A Southeast Greenland polar bear on a glacier or freshwater ice at 61 levels north in September 2016.
Picture: Thomas W. Johansen/NASA Oceans soften Greenland

Researchers have recognized a beforehand unknown inhabitants of polar bears residing within the isolation of southeast Greenland. Bears hunt seals in fjords, on freshwater ice cabinets, moderately than on quickly receding sea ice like different polar bear species.

A brand new report within the journal Science described the inhabitants, which now brings the whole variety of identified polar bear teams from 19 to twenty. Scientists knew that some polar bears is likely to be on this space based mostly on historic information and information of indigenous communities within the space. ‘Arctic, they usually had been lastly capable of verify that it’s a distinct inhabitants. The group consists of some hundred bears, and females are typically smaller than these of different populations.

“Polar bears in southeast Greenland are probably the most genetically remoted polar bears on the planet. They’re distinct from the opposite 19 Arctic polar bear subpopulations and extra distant from neighboring subpopulations than some other pair,” mentioned Kristin Laidre, a College of Washington polar scientist and lead creator. research, in an electronic mail to Earther. “They have been separated for a number of hundred years and have most likely at all times been a small inhabitants.”

Scientists have labored for years to determine analysis stations in Greenland, bond the bears and monitor them to verify their adaptability and isolation. Laidre mentioned this new group was adopted from 2015 to 2021.

Three adult polar bears in southeast Greenland in April 2015. They use sea ice for the limited time it is available.

Three grownup polar bears in southeast Greenland in April 2015. They use sea ice for the restricted time it’s obtainable.
Picture: Kristin Laidre/College of Washington

Elizabeth Peacock, an assistant professor at Emory College Faculty of Medication and a polar bear skilled, wrote a perspective piece to accompany Laidre’s analysis within the journal Science. She mentioned some on-line posts have hinted that this group of remoted bears could possibly be a “thriving” inhabitants as they’ve discovered a brand new strategy to hunt. However Peacock, she’s not satisfied that is the case.

“Plasticity often refers to a person being able to, , use totally different behaviors…so, ‘I can work out how one can kill a walrus or I can work out how one can catch fish,'” he mentioned. she acknowledged. “Pure choice is about adapting over time…it assumes polar bears have sufficient time to alter what they’re doing to reply to pure choice.”

Sadly, the results of local weather change are occurring sooner than many polar bears can reproduce.

The dots on the left map indicate where samples of Greenland polar bears were collected.  The new population in southeast Greenland, represented by red dots, is located between 60 and 64 degrees north.

The dots on the left map point out the place samples of Greenland polar bears had been collected. The brand new inhabitants in southeast Greenland, represented by purple dots, is positioned between 60 and 64 levels north.
Picture: Laidre et al./Science

In his article, Peacock pointed to different identified polar bear populations which have proven indicators of plasticity, equivalent to nesting additional inland away from sea ice depletion or looking differing kinds. of prey when their typical seal weight-reduction plan just isn’t as plentiful. One wonders if glacier looking will proceed to be doable sooner or later, because the ice is melting at each poles. Generations of polar bears are on the verge 10 years, however local weather change is affecting the ice at a a lot sooner charge than that. Researchers concern this new habits will carry over because the local weather disaster is quickly depleting the ice within the Arctic.

“We have now NO IDEA if they’re thriving. We do not know if the inhabitants is secure or struggling. This can require extra analysis,” Laidre mentioned in an electronic mail. to local weather change, scientists might want to research the survival of grownup feminine polar bears by tagging and finding out them for 3 or 4 years.

“Glacial ice could assist a small variety of polar bears survive longer underneath international warming, and could also be essential for species persistence (i.e. stopping extinction), however it isn’t obtainable to the overwhelming majority of polar bears,” she mentioned. “Future monitoring of those bears can maybe inform us a bit extra about the way forward for the species.”

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