Science News

Climate Change Sexes Up Seals

Sun, 17th Dec 2006

Part of the show The Christmas Q & A Show

There's tales of gloom and doom everywhere as we hear about the dangers of climate change. Depending who you believe, we're going to drown, boil or freeze in the next few centuries. But new research by scientists at Durham University and the University of St Andrews suggests that for grey seals living on the remote Scottish Island of Rona, global warming has brought some rather unexpected benefits. The seals live in colonies, with lots of females and their pups living with a few dominant males. Warmer and drier autumns have caused pools of rainwater to dry up. The pools are used by female seals for drinking water and splashing around. This means that the female seals have to travel further away from home to find fresh water, removing them from the watchful eye of the dominant male. These little trips away allow weaker males to nip in and get their end away. This isn't just good news for the weakling males, it's also helping to enhance the genetic diversity in the population, which is good for strengthening the species. So global warming's not all bad news, especially if you're a grey seal.

Multimedia

Subscribe Free

Related Content


-
Not working please enable javascript
EPSRC
Powered by UKfast
STFC
Genetics Society
ipDTL