The population of reindeer, Santa’s helper, is diminishing. On December 12, researchers have argued that the number of reindeer is alarmingly decreasing. A new study which was presented at a meeting of the British Ecological Society (BES) in Liverpool has established that over the last 16 years, the weight of a reindeer living in the Norwegian Arctic has decreased by approximately 12%. Specialists asserted that this could have happened due to climate change.
- Scientists developed a study analyzing reindeer.
- They have noticed that climate change influences their population.
- The number of reindeer is slowly decreasing due to the layer of ice which prevents them from feeding.
Reindeer born back in 2010 reached about 48 kg when they became adults compared to those born in 1994 who weighed approximately 55 kg during their adulthood. The leader of this study, Steve Albon who is a member of the James Hutton Institute in Scotland, has asserted that apparently, 12% should not turn into an alarming situation, but the body weight is extremely significant when it comes to survival and reproduction.
Previous studies have demonstrated that the population of reindeer as a whole is slowly declining due to the fact that an average reindeer adult weighted less than fifty kilos in April. Albon together with his colleagues has established that the primary cause of this disaster is climate change. Experts have proved that in the Arctic land surface temperatures were registered to be approximately 2.8 degrees Celsius higher in 2015 compared to records from a century ago.
The scientists from BES explained that higher temperatures imply warmer winters abundant in rains. All the water falls upon snow freezing. The layer of ice prevents reindeer from reaching the area rich in moss and lichen. Thus, their winter diet becomes more comprised than expected, scrounging in the snow for food.
Lichen represents a complex plant which consists in a fungus which lives in symbiosis with a bacterium or alga. Specialists from BES argued that reindeer starve for long periods, this causing abortion of their calves or much thinner ones when they are born. Statistics have shown that over the past twenty years, the number of reindeer managed to increase. Thus, there exists a tougher competition for food.
Unfortunately, predictions show that there could be born a lot of smaller reindeer, which could be in danger because of the ice covering the ground. The team of researchers has been analyzing reindeer since 1994. They have examined, caught and marked many calves every winter. They always returned next winter to capture the same individuals and note the differences in weight and size.
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