Climate change brings food shortages: polar bears are bad egg thieves

Climate change brings food shortages: polar bears are bad egg thieves

Climate change causes food shortages
Polar bears are bad egg thieves

Polar bears mainly feed on seals. Due to the consequences of climate change, they have to find new sources of food. Bird eggs are therefore being added to animal diet more and more often. However, egg hunting is not very efficient.

Melting ice forces polar bears to find food sources other than seals. In fact, for years there have been reports that Arctic predators are increasingly eating the clutches of geese and ducks. As biologists in the British magazine “Royal Society Open Science” report, animals are not particularly skilled egg thieves.

It has been known for decades that bird eggs are also on the polar bear’s menu, but only anecdotes have been made about it. However, for some time, such observations have been increasing. For example, a team led by Freiburg biologist Benoit Sitler reported in early 2015 that hunters are looting geese and duck nests in some areas of Greenland or on Svalbard.

Polar bears actually spend spring hunting seals to eat bacon for the summer. The rapid melting of pack ice, from which polar bears begin their prey, greatly reduces this season, forcing them to find other food sources on the ground.

Egg hunting without practice

Such an expansion of the menu is not an easy undertaking for specific robbers, such as Team um patrick jagielski From the Canadian University of Windsor Show. It used drones to watch polar bears in search of eggs from eider ducks in Hudson’s Bay. The pictures showed that the animals visited fewer and fewer nests as the breeding season progressed and were rapidly selected for the already vacant nests. Researchers suspect that polar bears are unable to distinguish between full and robbed nests in early stages.

The bears did not take advantage of the fact that there were many nests in one area – the robbers would actually have to intensify egg poaching, which they did not do. According to the researchers, one reason may be the inexperience of polar bears with this type of foraging.

“Our results suggest that polar bears are incompetent predators of seabird eggs …” the authors summarize. However, for eider ducks, this is only apparent for a short period of time. Researchers believe that bears may become more and more successful at looting nests and warn: “If the number of bears living in eider duck colonies increases, it could have disastrous consequences for eider duck populations And can destroy this resource in the long run. “

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