Researchers have discovered that the polar bear will be dealt another blow if climate change continues to devastate their environment. It has been discovered that polar bears gain information from the scent left by their paws. As the sea ice is becoming more fractured due to melting this may soon be impacted.
Polar Bears International, the U.S. Geological Survey in Alaska and the San Diego Zoo institute for Conservation Research conducted the study. The lead author on this study for the ‘Journal of Zoology’ said ““Effective communication is essential for successful reproduction in solitary, wide-ranging animals. Developing an understanding of how communication is tied to the environment may enhance our ability to predict the impacts of rapid environmental change on populations.”
The study suggests that polar bears developed this form of communication due to the constraints of Arctic sea ice. Polar bears live a solitary lifestyle and only come together to mate. As such scent is imperative in them being able to find each other so they can mate. If sea ice continues to melt scientists worry the scents will be disrupted and the species will suffer a decline.
“Scent communication plays a vital role in regulating social behavior and this is particularly important during the breeding season,” added Owens.
Another interesting reason behind the scent marking is to show which individuals are aggressive so other bears can avoid them.
Owens said, “Scent communication is instrumental in both managing aggression and motivating reproductive interest in solitary species.”
Photo Credits: San Diego Zoo Global