As the changing climate melts the Arctic ice, the animals that are part of these ecosystems will have to shift their lifestyles to survive in the terrestrial habitats they find themselves in.
A recent review article published in a climate change special issue of the Journal of Experimental Biology discussed how Arctic animals would be impacted, especially as they are forced onto land.
For the iconic polar bear, which relies on sea ice to provide access to high calorie seals, they will have to change their diets in order to provide them with the energy they need to hunt, reproduce and survive in a challenging thermal environment. Polar bears,the most recently evolved marine mammals, have specialised — both behaviourally and physiologically — to hunt seals, which are rich in blubber.
Already, polar bears have already been observed to spend more time on land — and to consume more terrestrial food resources. But the food they are able to eat on land is less rich in digestible energy than the seals they are able to hunt on the ice. This infographic illustrates the alternative terrestrial food sources that would approximately make up for the energy from one ringed seal.