The Polar Bear, a staple resident of the arctic tundra, can reach a height of “2.4 to 3.4 meters [m] long and can weigh more than 454 kilograms [kg]” (Harrington, 2005). The scientific name of this organism is Ursus maritimus. According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature [IUCN], this species belongs to the “Kingdom of Animalia, in the Phylum of Chordata, in the Class of Mammalia, in the Order of Carnivora, in the family of Ursidae” (Ursus maritimus, 2017). The IUCN has Ursus maritimus listed as “vulnerable due to loss of Arctic sea ice” (Ursus maritimus, 2017). The loss of Arctic sea ice is beginning to affect the migratory patterns of the region’s iconic animal.
Authored by Doc Comeau on Saturday, April 17th, 2021 at 1:00 PM EST
Photo By: Michael Miloserdoff
Polar Bear’s Response to Climate Change
According to an article published by National Geographic Magazine’s website, these organisms are responding to the continued change in our planet’s weather patterns in few distinct ways. The first method Polar Bears are adapting to these changes outlined by National Geographic is a change in their food source. Polar Bears are being observed consuming “snow geese eggs” a food source they referenced with the ratio of “one stick of butter per egg” (Becker, 2015). Additionally, Polar Bears have begun to enter human-populated regions to consume our food “waste” with one incident causing a Canadian town to make alternative holiday plans out of fear their children would be attack and consumed (Becker, 2015).
Researchers, enthusiasts are witnessing the second adaption Polar Bears are beginning to utilize that, and nature observers are changing in their sleep cycles. Radical weather patterns in the Arctic are causing these animals to go without needed food sources and “starvation is lowing their metabolism down” as happens with normal hibernation into waking hibernation (Becker, 2015). The last change being observed in Polar Bears outlined by National Geographic is a change in hunting patterns. They have been consuming marine life that swims further into a normally solid region during the new melting periods and get “trapped” (Becker, 2015). However, another observation of the effect of climate change on this species is being witnessed by humans.
According to an article published by The Washington Post, Polar Bears are beginning to change their eating habits. The warming of the planet has seen Grizzly Bears roaming out of their habitats further north in search of territory and food. This migratory change in the Grizzly is allowing the two usually geographically isolated populations to encounter each other and mate with willing partners. The Washington Post states that the individuals being produced by these encounters they named the “Grolar Bear” tended to inherit more behavioral traits from the Grizzly and therefore may be another threat to the Arctic predators’ survivability (Popescu, 2016).
Climate Change is a subject debated by many people around the world. However, studying the behavioral changes in other species can be offered as evidence of the existence of this global issue. The Polar Bear, one of the planet’s unique organisms, is threatened by climate change. The species habitat is diminishing and causing all a bunch of different behavioral changes (Ursus maritimus, 2017). One of these changes is a result of a change in the roaming patterns of the Grizzly. The two species previously isolated from one another have begun mating (Popescu, 2016). These encounters are being facilitated by climate changes in the standard territorial ranges of both species.
Harington, C. R. (2005). Polar Bear. The World Book Encyclopedia. (Vol P, Pages 616-617). Chicago, IL; World Book Inc. Print.
Ursus maritimus (Polar Bear). (2017). International Union for Conservation of Nature. Retrieved from http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22823/0.
Becker, R. A. (2015, September 4). 4 Ways Polar Bears Are Dealing With Climate Change Retrieved from https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/09/150904-polar-bears-dolphins-seals-climate-change/
Popescu, A. (2016, May 23). Love in the time of climate change: Grizzlies and polar bears are now mating. The Washington Post. Retrieved from http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.snhu.edu/ps/i.do?p=STND&u=nhc_main&id=GALE|A453000277&v=2.1&it=r&sid=ebsco&authCount=1#