From Nature journal:
Study suggests animals may not migrate in response to rising temperatures.
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.