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Why global warming may affect foxes
12:51pm Wednesday 12th September 2012 in News
THE Little Ice Age allowed a new wave of arctic foxes to colonise Iceland, North-East scientists are claiming.
A bridge of sea ice appeared between 500 and 200 years ago, allowing arctic foxes, right, to migrate to Iceland from Arctic regions including Russia, North America and Greenland, according to research from Durham University.
While the 10,000-strong Icelandic arctic fox population is not at risk, experts say increasing isolation from the rest of the Arctic, caused by warmer temperatures and reducing sea ice, could further differentiate the island’s population from their mainland relatives.
Dr Greger Larson, from Durham University’s archaeology department, said: “To paraphrase Dr Ian Malcolm in Jurassic Park, ‘life will always find a way’, and in this case, once the Little Ice Age began, arctic foxes didn’t need much of an opportunity to colonise Iceland.
“Without the sea ice, there will be no new fox migrants and thus the Icelandic population will continue to diverge from their mainland relatives.”
The research is featured in Proceedings of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences, which is published today.