Navigation Links
Climate change threatens genetic diversity, future of world's caribou
Date:12/16/2013

Caribou in southern and eastern Canada may disappear from most of their current range in 60 years if climate change takes the toll on their habitat that scientists predict in a paper appearing online Dec. 15 in the journal Nature Climate Change.

Scientists looked at reservoirs of genetic diversity in caribou and whether that diversity was linked to stable habitats. They found that caribou populations in the most climatically stable areas had the greatest genetic diversity and note that future climate forecasts bode ill for both caribou habitat and their genes.

"Caribou can respond to habitat change in three ways," said Kris Hundertmark, co-author and wildlife biologist-geneticist at the Institute of Arctic Biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "They can move to new, suitable habitat, adapt to the changed habitat or die."

Caribou populations are predicted to become more isolated and fragmented as climate change shrinks habitat and as caribou have fewer opportunities for genes to flow between individuals and herds, explained Hundertmark.

"When a population loses genetic diversity, they lose the ability to adapt to change," Hundertmark said, adding that although Alaska herds are expected to fair slightly better at least in the near future, they are still facing significant challenges.

"Climate change in Alaska means we're going to see more fires and while that's good for moose, it's really bad for caribou," said Hundertmark, "because it's going to burn lichen beds that can take at least 50 years to recover and reduce viable caribou habitat."

Hundertmark and then-graduate student Karen Mager who collected 655 tissues samples from 20 of Alaska's 32 herds developed genetic profiles of Alaska's caribou. The two credit a successful collaboration with state and federal fish and game biologists and hunters over several years with making sample collection possible.

The scientists, part of a team headed by researchers at Laval University in Quebec, used climate reconstructions from 21,000 years ago to the present to predict where caribou habitat would likely exist and they matched reservoirs of high genetic diversity to areas with the most stable habitat over time.

Bolstered by the success of their retrospective analysis the scientists forecast caribou habitat to the year 2080 using a 'business-as-usual' climate model the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's A1B model. The outcome is grim.

"Those caribou herds that shift their range to remain within their habitat and those herds that are reduced in size and become isolated from neighboring herds are those most threatened with loss of genetic diversity," said Hundertmark. "That is why it is important to know what areas will be have the most habitat stability in the future."

The team predicts that viable caribou habitat will shift north, the southernmost herds will disappear and herds in northeastern North America will become more threatened with extinction, losing up to 89% of their current habitat.

Caribou in western North America will also be affected, although to a lesser extent, and have a better chance of retaining what remains of genetic diversity and therefore adaptability to change.

"This study gives us strong evidence from a widespread species that the stability of the climate makes a difference in the amount of genetic diversity retained within a species," said Mager.


'/>"/>

Contact: Marie Thoms
methoms@alaska.edu
907-460-1841
University of Alaska Fairbanks
Source:Eurekalert

Related biology news :

1. New study will help protect vulnerable birds from impacts of climate change
2. EU-funded study underlines importance of Congo Basin for global climate and biodiversity
3. UNH researchers find African farmers need better climate change data to improve farming practices
4. Fielding questions about climate change
5. Glacier-fed river systems threatened by climate change
6. Beating famine: Sustainable food security through land regeneration in a changing climate
7. Energy requirements make Antarctic fur seal pups vulnerable to climate change
8. Why spring is blooming marvelous (and climate change makes it earlier)
9. Carnegies Greg Asner named Energy/Climate Fellow by US State Department
10. Declines in Caribbean coral reefs pre-date damage resulting from climate change
11. Some corals like it hot: Heat stress may help coral reefs survive climate change
Post Your Comments:
*Name:
*Comment:
*Email:
(Date:1/20/2016)... , Jan. 20, 2016  Synaptics Incorporated (NASDAQ: ... interface solutions, today announced sampling of S1423, its ... wearables and small screen applications including smartwatches, fitness ... Supporting round and rectangular shapes, as well as ... performance with moisture on screen, while wearing gloves, ...
(Date:1/15/2016)... JUAN, Puerto Rico , Jan. 15, 2016 /PRNewswire/ ... companies big and small to find new ways to ... driven culture. iOS and Android ... device based on biometrics, transforming it into a hardware ... request that users swipe their fingerprint on their KodeKey ...
(Date:1/13/2016)... 13, 2016 ... of the  "India Biometrics Authentication & ... (2015-2020)"  report to their offering.  ... announced the addition of the  "India ... Estimation & Forecast (2015-2020)"  report ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:2/4/2016)... 2016  Sangamo BioSciences, Inc. (NASDAQ: SGMO ), ... Edward Lanphier , Sangamo,s president and chief executive ... Sangamo,s ZFP Therapeutic ® development programs and an ... ET on Thursday, February 11, 2016, at the Leerink ... conference is being held in New York ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... MENLO PARK, Calif. , Feb. 4, 2016 ... the "Company"), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development and ... present at the 18 th Annual BIO CEO ... 10:00 a.m. EST in New York, NY ... CEO, will provide an update on the ongoing clinical trial ...
(Date:2/4/2016)... Oakland, California (PRWEB) , ... February 04, 2016 ... ... Artificial Intelligence (AI) and leading supplier of Semantic Graph Database technology has been ... Graph Database Products ” by Corporate America Magazine. , “At Corporate America, it’s ...
(Date:2/3/2016)... 3, 2016  With the growing need for ... is underway, therapies such as monoclonal antibodies, recombinant ... host of indications are in high demand. Conventionally ... development and production of these therapeutics. However, due ... high costs, novel approaches and novel expression systems ...
Breaking Biology Technology: