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More Moose On The Move As They Invade Warmer Alaskan Tundra

Apr 16, 2016 04:00 AM EDT
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More moose are loose and on the move as they invade previously uninhabitable areas of the Alaskan tundra, according to a new study that revealed how global warming continues to change our ecosystem.

Shrubs may be not at all significant to us humans, but moose largely depend on them for survival. As the Earth gets warm due to climate change, the sizes of these shrubs rapidly increase, allowing scientists to believe that the moose colonization will continue where the food is.

The study, published in the journal PLOS One, showed the increase in the height of shrubs pushes moose to move northwards for their food.

Around the beginning of the 20th century, there was a decrease in moose numbers in the treeless Alaskan tundra. Tundras are areas with short growing seasons and low temperatures. But the recent rise in sightings may be attributed to environmental factors and warmer temperature, as per this BBC report.

The study discovered that global warming ushered longer summers that allowed the shrubs to increase their growth to around two meters in 2009, compared to 1.1 meters in 1860. This is great news for the moose who rely only on shrubs that are sticking out from the snow during winter for their survival.

The scientists described the process as "boreal-isation" of the tundra. This pertains to species like the moose that encroach on endemic or native creatures, resulting to an emergence of a new wildlife community in the region. Their existence in the area can create changes on the other wildlife in the already existing ecosystem.

The moose seem to have no plans of stopping their kilometers-march soon. Scientists said they might come nearer to the coasts as shrubs grow taller there. It may not just be happening in The Last Frontier, but also in Canada and Northern Russia, according to the study team.

Moose, according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, are the largest member of the deer family and can grow up to almost 6 feet tall. Males are easily recognized by their antlers. They are widely distributed across Alaska and now, maybe even more.

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