The iconic relationship between polar bears and ringed seals is changing in western Hudson Bay, and even though the bears are eating fewer ringed seals, the seals should refrain from celebrating.
In a new paper published in the journal, Environmental Science and Technology, a UM team lead by David Yurkowski, a researcher in biological sciences, report that sea ice reduction in the region is changing the structure and function of the upper part of the food web. The paper is the first to measure carbon and nitrogen isotopes and mercury together in polar bears and ringed seals to better understand how the animals are using habitat, and what they are eating.
“The whole result was a surprise,” Yurkowski says on National Polar Bear Day. “You’d assume you’d see that strong polar bear-ringed seals relationship continue over time but we didn’t see that. We saw contrasting patterns.” MORE
Header image: David Yurkowski.