Navigation Links
Polar bears can't eat geese into extinction

As the Arctic warms, a new cache of resourcessnow goose eggsmay help sustain the polar bear population for the foreseeable future. In a new study published in an early online edition of Oikos, researchers affiliated with the Museum show that even large numbers of hungry bears repeatedly raiding nests over many years would have a difficult time eliminating all of the geese because of a mismatch in the timing of bear arrival on shore and goose egg incubation.

"There have been statements in popular literature indicating that polar bears can extirpate snow geese quickly once they start to eat eggs," says Robert Rockwell, a research associate in the Division of Vertebrate Zoology at the Museum and a professor at the City University of New York. "However, there will always be the occasional mismatch in the overlap between the onshore arrival of bears and the incubation period of the geese. Even if the bears eat every egg during each year of complete 'match,' our model shows that periodic years of mismatch will provide windows of successful goose reproduction that will partially offset predation effects."

In the last few years, work along the Cape Churchill Peninsula of western Hudson Bay by Rockwell and colleagues has suggested that polar bears are not as hamstrung by their environment as many biologists believe. One new nutritional option for polar bears is the bounty of goose eggs which had previously hatched into goslings that were gone by the time bears came ashore. In recent years, 'early' bears have left breaking sea ice to come ashore and consume eggs. In fact, the earlier the bears come ashore, the better: eggs are higher in nutrients when the embryo is younger.

In the new Oikos paper, Rockwell and coauthors Linda Gormezano (also affiliated with the Museum) and David Koons (a researcher at Utah State University in Logan) simulated the timing of events during the Arctic spring: the break-up of sea ice, the movement of bears onto shore, the migration of geese to the North, and the laying of eggs. Results from the computer model show that the mismatch of timing is something that both the bears and geese can use to their advantage. The timing of geese migration is primarily based on photoperiod (the amount of light in 24 hours), which will not change as quickly as polar bear movements, which are based on the melting of sea ice.

Results show that the advance in mean overlap of the two species gives an advantage to polar bears. But increased variability, also the result of global climate change, leads to an increased mismatch that is good news for snow geese.

"Mismatch is often thought to be bad, but in this case periodic mismatch is good because it keeps geese from going extinct and allows polar bears to eat," says Rockwell. "Are polar bears adaptable? Of course. This could be a nice stable system. The geese aren't going to go away, and they are a nutrient resource for the bears."


Contact: Kristin Phillips
American Museum of Natural History

Related biology news :

1. Study of polar dinosaur migration questions whether dinosaurs were truly the first great migrators
2. Polarized light guides cholera-carrying midges that contaminate water supplies
3. Bipolar disorder genes, pathways identified by Indiana University neuroscientists
4. Goose eggs may help polar bears weather climate change
5. Polarstern expedition LOHAFEX can be conducted
6. Polar research reveals new evidence of global environmental change
7. Research plane Polar 5 on Arctic campaign
8. New light on bipolar treatment drugs
9. Research vessel Polarstern starts 24th Arctic season
10. New tracking approach will help protect polar bears
11. ESHRE launches international study of polar body screening
Post Your Comments:
Related Image:
Polar bears can't eat geese into extinction
(Date:6/22/2016)... , June 22, 2016 On Monday, ... call to industry to share solutions for the Biometric ... U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), explains that CBP ... are departing the United States , ... and to defeat imposters. Logo - ...
(Date:6/9/2016)... innovation leader in attendance control systems is proud to announce the introduction of fingerprint ... sure the right employees are actually signing in, and to even control the opening ... ... ... Photo ...
(Date:6/2/2016)... NEW YORK , June 2, 2016   The ... (Weather), is announcing Watson Ads, an industry-first capability in which ... advertising, by being able to ask questions via voice or ... Marketers have long ... with the consumer, that can be personal, relevant and valuable; ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:6/23/2016)... A person commits a crime, and the detective ... the criminal down. An outbreak of foodborne illness ... (FDA) uses DNA evidence to track down the bacteria that ... It,s not. The FDA has increasingly used a complex, cutting-edge ... illnesses. Put as simply as possible, whole genome sequencing is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Prostate Cancer Foundation (PCF) is pleased to announce 24 new Young ... cancer. Members of the Class of 2016 were selected from a pool of ... More About the Class of 2016 PCF Young Investigators ... ... ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... ... June 23, 2016 , ... Supplyframe, the Industry Network ... Supplyframe Design Lab . Located in Pasadena, Calif., the Design Lab’s mission is ... projects are designed, built and brought to market. , The Design Lab is ...
(Date:6/23/2016)... Apellis Pharmaceuticals, Inc. today announced positive ... its complement C3 inhibitor, APL-2. The trials were ... studies designed to assess the safety, tolerability, pharmacokinetics ... healthy adult volunteers. Forty subjects were ... dose (ranging from 45 to 1,440mg) or repeated ...
Breaking Biology Technology: