Polar Bears Incestuous?

Polar Bears Incestuous?

Wendalyn Pinto, Reporter

A new study finds Polar bears’ genetic diversity is declining due to climate change. Researchers have found that there has been as much as a 10% loss of genetic diversity in the polar bear populations on the Svalbard Archipelago, Norway, since 1996. In this region, which has been impacted by the rapid decrease of sea ice, polar bears have resorted to inbreeding, due to the declining number of mates. “We found a drastic reduction in genetic diversity over the 20-year period,” author Simo Maduna of the Norwegian Institute of Bioeconomy Research said. “And we could, in actual fact, associate this reduction in genetic diversity with the loss of sea ice.” The species is in danger as a result of inbreeding, it can impact the fitness and health of the species leading to an even bigger decrease. A 2020 study published in Nature Climate Change found that polar bears could be extinct by 2100 if Arctic ice continues to melt at projected rates. The authors of that study found that the carnivores could be starved into extinction within decades as the sea ice disappears and the bears lose their hunting ground.