DEC 29, 2016 9:27 AM PST

Climate Change is Causing Reindeer to Shrink in Size

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

Reindeer, an iconic mammal of the Winter season and well-known for pulling Santa’s sleigh for Christmas, are reportedly in trouble due to climate change.

Reindeer are reportedly shrinking in size due to climate change.

Image Credit: JellisV/iStock

The British Ecological Society presented its most recent findings in a meeting at Liverpool, noting that wild reindeer are undergoing a size change. Over the past 16 years, the creatures’ average body weight is said to have dropped by as much as 12%.

A survey of the creatures carried out in 2010 revealed that the average body weight of an adult reindeer was pegged at about 48 kilograms (106 pounds). This figure is down from 55 kilograms (121 pounds) from another survey conducted in 1994.

According to the experts behind the research, this could be an alarming change for the species as a whole, potentially affecting both reproduction and survival.

"Twelve percent may not sound very much, but given how important body weight is to reproduction and survival, it's potentially huge," study leader Steve Albon of the James Hutton Institute in Scotland said to AFP.

Malnourishment reportedly plays a big role in their shrinking sizes. The warming weather is reportedly melting more arctic ice, which in turn evaporates and rains back down on the Earth’s surface. This creates a thick blanket of ice when it freezes back over and making it difficult for reindeer to get to the fungi and plants underneath.

They were always used to digging through snow to get to the prize underneath, but ice is harder and more difficult to penetrate. After spotting food underneath they ice, they’re simply unable to get to it.

Trouble with finding things to eat affects the whole population; pregnant reindeer are especially susceptible to this kind of problem, as their unborn young rely on them to find food. Many unborn young aren’t fed enough, leading to either smaller young, or more devastatingly, miscarriages.

Another factor to keep in mind is that reindeer populations are exploding, so although ice cover plays a big role, there is also a lot of competition to get to what food can be accessed, so many go without.

Although their numbers are strong right now, climate change’s effects on their ability to sustain a diet has the potential to eventually load to catastrophic die-offs that would impact the species numbers. This is unlikely to happen in the near future, but it could within the next few decades.

In the meantime, reindeer are expected to continue to shrink in average size as a side-effect of climate change. The only way to reverse this problem is to work on the pressing climate change issue, which many still refuse to believe is even an actual thing.

Source: The Verge

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
APR 12, 2020
Plants & Animals
It's Jellyfish Eat Jellyfish Out There...
APR 12, 2020
It's Jellyfish Eat Jellyfish Out There...
These Aurelia jellyfish roam the void of the ocean in massive groups, an occurrence that doesn’t happen by acciden ...
MAY 03, 2020
Plants & Animals
Fruit Flies Avoid the Scent of Predators
MAY 03, 2020
Fruit Flies Avoid the Scent of Predators
Fruit flies can be particularly annoying, especially when one finds its way into your home and begins buzzing in circles ...
MAY 28, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Pitcher Plants Inspire Kidney Stone Diagnostic
MAY 28, 2020
Pitcher Plants Inspire Kidney Stone Diagnostic
  Urine contains an abundance of dissolved salts and minerals such as calcium and uric acid. These can form crystal ...
MAY 31, 2020
Chemistry & Physics
Measuring stress chemicals in plants
MAY 31, 2020
Measuring stress chemicals in plants
Plant biologists at the University of California San Diego have developed a new nanosensor that lets them measure the ch ...
JUL 07, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Anticancer Compound Found in Marine Bacteria
JUL 07, 2020
Anticancer Compound Found in Marine Bacteria
Bacteria live in symbiosis with many animals in the world. These tiny single-celled creatures often play crucial roles i ...
JUL 08, 2020
Cannabis Sciences
CBD Helps Dogs With Osteoarthritis Stay More Active
JUL 08, 2020
CBD Helps Dogs With Osteoarthritis Stay More Active
It’s estimated that up to a fifth of dogs above the age of one are afflicted with osteoarthritis, which causes inf ...
Loading Comments...