Wild reindeer forage for food on the island of Spitsbergen which is part of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. (Ben Birchall/PA, File via AP/AP Photo/Igor Novikov)
Scientists say reindeer may be shrinking due to warming
December 14, 2016
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Reindeer living on the Arctic island of Svalbard are getting smaller. Scientists say climate change may be the cause.
Scientists from Britain and Norway have found that adult Svalbard reindeer born in 2010 weigh 12 percent less on average than those born in 1994.
Ecologist Steve Albon of Scotland's James Hutton Institute says rising temperatures in the Arctic mean Svalbard is getting more rain. The rain creates a hard ice sheet. The island's reindeer can't easily break through it. So it is more difficult for them to reach food.
Reindeer populations are also increasing. This is due to warmer summers. More reindeer means increased competition among them.
Albon says researchers think there is a correlation between rising temperatures and reindeer weight. He says more research is needed to confirm the link.
Their findings were presented Dec. 12 at a meeting of the British Ecological Society.
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CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
How is warmer weather affecting reindeer?
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