Arctic fox didn’t move north at end of Ice Age


Arctic fox

From Nature journal:

Arctic fox failed to move north at end of ice age

Study suggests animals may not migrate in response to rising temperatures.

Lucy Odling-Smee

Even the fast-moving arctic fox, used to trekking long distances, failed to retreat to cooler climes when global temperatures rose in the past, a new study suggests.

The find dampens hopes that species will be able to adapt to climate change by moving towards the poles.

Comparing DNA from living arctic foxes with that extracted from fossils indicates that, at the end of the last ice age, foxes that lived in mid-latitude Europe simply died out rather than moved north. And the same could be happening now.

“What we’re seeing happen to arctic foxes in Scandinavia today is exactly what we think happened in Europe 10,000 years ago,” says Love Dalén, an evolutionary biologist now at University College London, UK, and lead author of the study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Today the arctic fox, Alopex lagopus, is restricted to northern tundra, for example in Scandinavia and Siberia.

But around the end of the last ice age, about 10,000 to 12,000 years ago, its range extended south to what is now Belgium, Germany and southwestern Russia.

National Geographic video about Arctic foxes: here.

Arctic fox joins polar bear on new list of Arctic species in danger of extinction: here.

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6 thoughts on “Arctic fox didn’t move north at end of Ice Age

  1. This is exactly the dire situation the Arctic fox is facing because of global warming.

    Recent reports show that the Arctic fox is now being preyed upon by its cousin the red fox, which is nearly twice its size. Please help today.

    Why is the Arctic fox in trouble?

    Rising temperatures are making the Arctic climate more appealing to a species that formerly couldn’t survive so far north—the red fox.

    As it expands its range north, the red fox is beginning to take over and has begun to prey on its smaller cousin. To make matters worse, the decline of the Arctic sea-ice reduces the opportunity for some Arctic foxes to follow polar bears to find tidbits left behind by feeding polar bears.

    As the red fox continues to move northward, the habitat of the Arctic fox is shrinking. But they are just one of the many animals feeling the effects of global warming. The American pika, the walrus and seals of the Arctic are also feeling the squeeze.

    Please help stop global warming—and other threats to wildlife—today, before these trends become irreversible. Donate today.

    What is NWF doing?

    Global warming is simply pushing animals to the brink. That’s why at National Wildlife Federation, we’re working around the clock—every day of the year to fight global warming. We’re in the halls of Congress pushing for strong energy legislation, in communities empowering individuals to reduce their carbon footprint and in the field protecting imperiled wildlife—but we can’t do our vital work without you.

    Please, help support desperate animals like the adorable Arctic fox, American pika and so many other at-risk animals. Donate today.

  2. Pingback: Greenland sanderlings and muskoxen | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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