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Linking Climate Trends to Population Dynamics in the Baltic Ringed Seal: Impacts of Historical and Future Winter Temperatures

Journal article
Authors Lisa Sundqvist
T. Harkonen
Carl Johan Svensson
Karin C. Harding
Published in Ambio
Volume 41
Issue 8
Pages 865-872
ISSN 0044-7447
Publication year 2012
Published at Linnaeus Centre for Marine Evolutionary Biology (CEMEB)
Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences
Pages 865-872
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1007/s13280-012-0334-...
https://gup.ub.gu.se/file/91005
Keywords Global warming, Habitat loss, Ice coverage, Marine mammals, Phoca hispida, Pup survival
Subject categories Climate Research, Environmental Sciences, Ecology, Marine ecology

Abstract

A global trend of a warming climate may seriously affect species dependent on sea ice. We investigated the impact of climate on the Baltic ringed seals (Phoca hispida botnica), using historical and future climatological time series. Availability of suitable breeding ice is known to affect pup survival. We used detailed information on how winter temperatures affect the extent of breeding ice and a climatological model (RCA3) to project the expected effects on the Baltic ringed seal population. The population comprises of three sub-populations, and our simulations suggest that all of them will experience severely hampered growth rates during the coming 90 years. The projected 30 730 seals at the end of the twenty-first century constitutes only 16 % of the historical population size, and thus reduced ice cover alone will severely limit their growth rate. This adds burden to a species already haunted by other anthropogenic impacts.

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