Scientists predict that polar bears might have trouble finding love

Ladies' night is not so much fun in the ArcticCanadian male polar bears Ursus maritimus spend much of their time tracking potential mates across the rapidly disappearing sea ice, but a study published this week warns that climate change is not the only threat to their survival. Writing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, University of Alberta biologist Péter Molnár and colleagues subject polar bear mating behavior to computer modeling (nothing is sacred in biology) and find that the heavily male-biased “harvest” — resulting from a combination of bear behavior and hunting management practice — could leave the remaining animals subject to many a long, lonely polar night. Although the population is currently secure, a reduction of numbers by, say a third, would likely step over a “tipping point”, leaving the population vulnerable to collapse. Source: Molnár PK, Derocher AE, Lewis MA & Taylor MK (2007) Modelling the mating system of polar bears: a mechanistic approach to the Allee effect. Proc. Roy. Soc. Lond B DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2007.1307

Related story in Conservation Magazine: Saint Ursus Maritimus

Image © Vladimir Seliverstov

Filed Under Climate change, Endangered species, Habitat, Restoration, Marine, Monitoring | 

Email This Post Email This Post


Leave a Reply