Due to the erosion of the favorable and suitable conditions and the instability in the east and south of the Arctic region, Polar Bears are moving to the far Northern side of the Canada where they can find plentiful of ice.
While analyzing the genetic construction of the polar bear populations, scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey found that over the last three generations (beginning in the 1990s) polar bears have been slowly migrating north — to the Canadian Archipelago.
“Instead of sort of random movements of bears across the Arctic that we found in sort of the more ancient historical picture, we found directional movement towards the Canadian Archipelago,” Lily Peacock, a wildlife biologist with USGS, told Alaska Public Radio Network (APRN).
Scientists say that this gene analysis provides a wider angle than the studies performed by simply tracking the polar bear via satellite.
“By examining the genetic makeup of polar bears, we can estimate levels and directions of gene flow, which represents the past story of mating and movement, and population expansion and contraction. Gene flow occurs over generations, and would not be detectable by using data from satellite-collars which can only be deployed on a few polar bears for short periods of time.” Peacock explained in a press release.”
According to the researchers the change in the gene is gradual and this trend highlights the vulnerability of this species. As population becomes isolated it is at greater risk of extinction.
“And what can happen when populations of animals become isolated is that they can blink out if something happens. If they have a bad winter or bad spring and that stresses the population and it gets smaller and smaller, but the migration corridor has been cut off and you can’t repopulate.” Peacock told APRN.