Extinction: It’s not just for Polar Bears anymore.

September 27, 2010

An accelerating rate of species extinction isn’t just all part of mother natures plan. It’s an expected result of climate change.  With changes in the arctic happening faster than any other place on earth, polar species are among those most at risk.  Case in point: The Pacific Walrus.

NPR ran a story on this today, quoting USGS biologist Anthony Fishbach:
“I’m surprised by one thing,” he says. “Essentially all the animals here are adult females.” You’d expect to see about one in three with newborn yearling calves, he says. The vast majority of walruses in the Chukchi each summer are females who fatten up on clams that populate the seafloor. They need a lot of protein to nurse their young. This time of year, they should be foraging from the sea ice floating over the productive waters of the continental shelf. Instead, they’re stuck on land. “I only see a small number of yearling calves,” Fischbach says. “That makes me wonder what’s happening with the calves.”

Correction:
The video at 6:51 with the walrus stampede is shown as “Video: US Geological Survey” but it actually is by Fredrik Blomqvist (not affiliated with USGS) taken Cape Schmidt, Russia, 4 September 2009.  He also is the one who took the video with Geoff York (WWF) at 7:54 (also taken at Cape Schmidt last year).

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2 Responses to “Extinction: It’s not just for Polar Bears anymore.”

  1. Scott Mandia Says:

    Very sad but very effective at showing the negative impacts of climate change on various ecosystems. Well done.

  2. stevendm Says:

    This is a very clear message of the effects of human abuse of the biosphere. But it could be just the beginning. Even more disconcerting than walruses or polar bears is that the entire Arctic food chain is threatened with eventual collapse. The base of the food chain is comprised of ice algae which inhabit the underside of the ice pack during winter, and creates a dense mat under the ice in spring at the end of winter darkness. As Arctic algae are threatened by sea ice reduction, so are all trophic levels above.

    Upon earth’s oceans, according to Boyce, Lewis, and Worm (2010), phytoplankton, the base of the marine food chain, has declined by as much as 40% since 1950. If the base of the food chain collapses, everything above it will also collapse. It’s bewildering to me that so few people are aware of this potential calamity, and that there is apparently little discussion about how to deal with this.


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