FEB 12, 2018 04:03 AM PST

Polar Bears Not Catching Enough Prey, Study Finds

Polar bears are large animals and require vast amounts of energy to survive. Sadly, they might not be catching enough prey to satisfy their immense energy needs, and researchers are alarmed about the potential side effects of these findings.

Polar bears need more energy than they're getting, and scientists say it's beacuse they an't find enough prey,

Image Credit: Pixabay

Researchers from the University of California, Santa Cruz set out to learn more about polar bear physiology by affixing high-tech collars and metabolic tracers to the animals, and they’ve published their findings in the journal Science.

Thanks to the fancy gadgets the researchers had at their disposal, they efficiently gauged the polar bears’ hunting habits, location history, and metabolic rates for 8-12 days. Afterward, the researchers returned to the polar bears once more to collect raw data from their devices.

One of the critical details that came up in the data was how polar bears require more energy than initially thought. Unfortunately, the polar bears weren’t catching the number of seals needed to meet that energy requirement. The researchers say that this could have something to do with the species’ overall decline.

"We've been documenting declines in polar bear survival rates, body condition, and population numbers over the past decade," explained study first author Anthony Pagano from the University of California, Santa Cruz.

"This study identifies the mechanisms that are driving those declines by looking at the actual energy needs of polar bears and how often they're able to catch seals."

Related: Habitat loss for Arctic polar bears isn't getting any better

As it would seem, polar bears expend up to 50% more energy than researchers initially thought. Many of the those tracked in this study lost significant amounts of weight while searching for food, suggesting that they aren’t eating enough to keep up with energy demands.

"This was at the start of the period from April through July when polar bears catch most of their prey and put on most of the body fat they need to sustain them throughout the year," Pagano continued.

Related: The true color of a polar bear's fur explained

The researchers cite climate change as a significant factor. The melting ice means that polar bears travel farther to get to prey, which consequently means using more energy during fasting season to find food.

The researchers note how these findings don’t look good for the polar bear species. On a more positive note, however, advancements in technology make it possible to understand what’s happening in the polar bears’ environment so that conservation efforts can be more effective.

Source: University of California, Santa Cruz

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
AUG 23, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
AUG 23, 2018
Growing Plants That Don't Need as Much Water
Parts of our world already have to deal with periods of drought, and it may only get worse....
SEP 04, 2018
Plants & Animals
SEP 04, 2018
Can We Streamline the Head-Starting Process for Georgia's Gopher Tortoises?
In the world of animal conservation, head-starting is a technique used by experts to prevent threatened species from inching closer to extinction. This pro...
SEP 12, 2018
Health & Medicine
SEP 12, 2018
Can This Exotic Fruit Prevent Obesity?
Not a week goes by that there isn’t a new superfood or some exotic fruit or spice that can curb your appetite, burn fat while you sleep, and boost en...
SEP 19, 2018
Genetics & Genomics
SEP 19, 2018
Forensic Efforts To Combat Ivory Poaching
Scientists are using DNA testing to identify poaching hotspots, and criminal networks....
OCT 14, 2018
Plants & Animals
OCT 14, 2018
Here's How Hurricanes Impact Marine Wildlife
We’re not the only ones impacted by the hazards of powerful hurricanes; so too are the vast hierarchies of marine wildlife that reside in the ocean....
NOV 13, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 13, 2018
Conservation Efforts Are Helping Amazon Turtle Populations Bounce Back
It’s not too often that conservationists get the chance to share a successful conservation story, but as it would seem, nearly 40 years’ worth...
Loading Comments...