How (and why) to teach a polar bear to walk on a treadmill

Popular Science | 7/10/2018 | Staff
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For those of us with a heartbreaking image in our head of an exhausted polar bear laboriously lumbering across the sea ice in search of food, this might seem like good news. Polar bears might not have to work three times as hard to walk as previously thought. But as Arctic habitats continue to melt away, these creatures have to travel farther and farther in search of increasingly scarce food sources.

“These increases in walking they’re likely having to perform because of declines in sea ice means it’s certainly going to cost a lot of energy, regardless of whether they’re similar to other mammals,” he says.

Pagano - Studies - Year - Journal - Science

Another of Pagano’s studies published earlier this year in the journal Science discovered the metabolic rate of a polar bear is 50 percent higher than previously thought. Bears in the study burned almost 12,500 calories a day, and even when food was inaccessible, their metabolisms didn’t slow.

Ringed seals rich in fat provide the bulk of that caloric intake for polar bears. And they’re difficult to catch even before climate change factors in. Bears will stake out a seal’s breathing hole...
(Excerpt) Read more at: Popular Science
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