SADF AISJJJJJJJJJGF APOIRJ APIOJRPIOJ POIAEEEEEEEE PIEOAAA EIPOOOOOOOOOOOO PIOAEEEEEEEEEEE PIEOAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA PEIOOOOOOOOOOOOOO EPIOOOOOOOOOOOO PIOWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE PIOEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE OPIWEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE Mar. 20, 2013 — One of the most southerly populations of polar bears in the world -- and the best studied -- is struggling to cope with climate-induced changes to sea ice, new research reveals. Based on over 10 years' data the study, published in the British Ecological Society's Journal of Animal Ecology, sheds new light on how sea ice conditions drive polar bears' annual migration on and off the ice.
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Lead by Dr Seth Cherry of the University of Alberta, the team studied polar bears in western Hudson Bay, where sea ice melts completely each summer and typically re-freezes from late November to early December. "This poses an interesting challenge for a species that has evolved as a highly efficient predator of ice-associated seals," he explains. "Because although polar bears are excellent swimmers compared with other bear species, they use the sea ice to travel, hunt, mate and rest."
Polar bears have adapted to the annual loss of sea ice by migrating onto land each summer. While there, they cannot hunt seals and must rely on fat reserves to see them through until the ice returns.
Dr Cherry and colleagues wanted to discover how earlier thawing and later freezing of sea ice affects the bears' migration. "At first glance, sea ice may look like a barren, uniform environment, but in reality, it's remarkably complex and polar bears manage to cope, and even thrive, in a habitat that moves beneath their