DEC 29, 2016 09:27 AM PST

Climate Change is Causing Reindeer to Shrink in Size

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
JUL 25, 2018
Earth & The Environment
JUL 25, 2018
Does location sharing hurt or help endangered species?
Does sharing the locations of rare and endangered species help or harm those species? That’s the question that scientists from the University of Sydn...
AUG 13, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 13, 2018
Orca Mother Stops Mourning Dead Calf After 17 Days
Orcas are notorious for mourning their deceased loved ones by lugging the lifeless bodies around with them for extended periods of time, but a recent incid...
AUG 21, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 21, 2018
Animals Have Changed a Lot Since Humans Began Breeding Them
People first started breeding animals about 10,000 years ago, and it’s safe to say that many bred animals have changed a lot since then. After people...
AUG 27, 2018
Videos
AUG 27, 2018
Why Do Turtles Live So Long?
Why do turtles live so long? Apparently, it may have something to do with a slow metabolism which means that turtles need fewer calories than other animals...
AUG 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
AUG 28, 2018
Migrating Monarch Butterflies Are Experiencing Elevated Parasitism Risks
Monarch butterflies don’t take too kindly to the colder Winter months. The insects naturally avoid the cold by migrating to places that stay warm yea...
SEP 05, 2018
Earth & The Environment
SEP 05, 2018
Climate change increases prevalence of parasites among livestock
A warming climate will ultimately favor some species over others. One such species is a parasite called the liver fluke, which infects livestock with a dis...
Loading Comments...