Ice, Climate Change, and Wildlife Research in Alaska
DeGange, Anthony R., Endangered Species Update
What do polar bears, Pacific walrus, spectacled eiders, and Kittlitz's murrelets have in common? In a word--ice! Although the effects of climate change can now be observed almost anywhere in the United States, nowhere are the effects more prominent than in Alaska, where unprecedented rates of sea ice loss, tidewater glacier recession, coastal erosion, permafrost degradation, and other landscape changes presage major changes to Alaska wildlife populations.
Climate change will play an increasingly significant role in future decisions related to the Endangered Species Act (ESA), and research is critical to understand how wildlife and their habitats will change as the climate continues to warm. These four ice-related species exemplify the diverse approaches to research undertaken by biologists in the U.S. Geological Survey's Alaska Science Center (ASC) to help unravel the mysteries associated with climate change and wildlife in Alaska.
The summer of 2007 set another record in sea ice loss in the Arctic since satellite measurements began in 1979. Two species are emblematic of Arctic sea ice: the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) and the Pacific walrus (Odobenus rosemarus). The Secretary of the Interior announced the listing of polar bears as threatened under the ESA on May 14, 2008. Polar bears depend on sea ice for much of their life history needs. They mate and den on sea ice, travel on sea ice, and feed almost exclusively on seals captured …
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Publication information: Article title: Ice, Climate Change, and Wildlife Research in Alaska. Contributors: DeGange, Anthony R. - Author. Magazine title: Endangered Species Update. Volume: 25. Issue: 3 Publication date: July-September 2008. Page number: S16+. © 2007 University of Michigan, School of Natural Resources. COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale Group.