Are Ice Age relics the next casualty of climate change?

Apr 24, 2008
Musk Ox
Musk ox are the subject of a new four-year study launched by the Wildlife Conservation Society and other groups. Credit: Joel Berger/Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) recently launched a four-year study to determine if climate change is affecting populations of a quintessential Arctic denizen: the rare musk ox. Along with collaborators from the National Park Service, U. S. Geological Survey, and Alaska Fish and Game, Wildlife Conservation Society researchers have already equipped six musk ox with GPS collars to better understand how climate change may affect these relics of the Pleistocene.

The research team will be assessing how musk ox are faring in areas along the Chukchi and northern Bering Seas, and the extent to which snow and icing events, disease, and possibly predation may be driving populations.

“Musk ox are a throwback to our Pleistocene heritage and once shared the landscape with mammoths, wild horses, and sabered cats,” said the study’s leader Dr. Joel Berger, a Wildlife Conservation Society scientist and professor at the University of Montana. “They may also help scientists understand how arctic species can or cannot adapt to climate change.”

Once found in Europe and Northern Asia, today musk ox are restricted to Arctic regions in North America and Greenland although they have been introduced into Russia and northern Europe. They have been reintroduced in Alaska after being wiped out in the late 19th century. Currently they found in two national parks: Alaska’s Bering Land Bridge National Park and Cape Krusenstem National Monument.

Next year, the team will collar an additional 30-40 more animals.

Source: Wildlife Conservation Society

Explore further: Understanding how cells follow electric fields

Related Stories

NSA winds down once-secret phone-records collection program

3 hours ago

The National Security Agency has begun winding down its collection and storage of American phone records after the Senate failed to agree on a path forward to change or extend the once-secret program ahead of its expiration ...

Pipeline that leaked wasn't equipped with auto shut-off

4 hours ago

The pipeline that leaked thousands of gallons of oil on the California coast was the only pipe of its kind in the county not required to have an automatic shut-off valve because of a court fight nearly three ...

Uber drivers fined in Hungary

4 hours ago

The Hungarian tax authority fined Uber drivers in its first probe against the ride-sharing service which the economy ministry said Saturday "ignores passenger safety" and must be made to follow regulations.

Recommended for you

Godwits are flexible... when they get the chance

5 hours ago

Black-tailed godwits are able to cope with unpredictable weather. This was revealed by a thorough analysis of the extraordinary spring of 2013 by ecologist Nathan Senner of the University of Groningen and ...

Rules aim to protect imperiled bird's habitat in 10 states

12 hours ago

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell revealed plans Thursday to preserve habitat in 10 Western states for an imperiled ground-dwelling bird, the federal government's biggest land-planning effort to date for conservation of a single ...

Understanding how cells follow electric fields

13 hours ago

Many living things can respond to electric fields, either moving or using them to detect prey or enemies. Weak electric fields may be important growth and development, and in wound healing: it's known that ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.