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Reproductive Behavior of Animals

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A Toothy Problem?

A Toothy Problem?

Credit: U.S. Geological Survey Department of the Interior/USGS U.S. Geological Survey/photo by : S.A. Sonsthagen

That Remains To Be Seen

Have you ever made a boat out of walrus hide? How about dined on choice walrus blubber? It's a wonderful source of calories. If you answered no to either of these questions, then you are probably not a native Alaskan, at least not a native Alaskan living above the Arctic Circle. Life is hard near the poles of the world, but humans have adapted to live there by taking advantage of available resources, like the Pacific walrus. It is truly amazing how resilient people, like other animals, can be. But times are changing and balances are shifting, walruses are adopting new behaviors, leaving questions about the future relationship of walruses and humans.

No Duh's and Head Scratchers

If you need help scratching a mental itch, use the resources below:

  1. What changes have occurred in the Chukchi Sea over the last 30 years that appear to be affecting walruses? What impact do these changes appear to be having? Can you think of anything else which could be effecting the walruses' behavior other than changes in the Chukchi Sea?
  2. Are you surprised by how the walrus has adapted to change? What challenges do you think this adaptation will create for the species? Do you think humans should act to minimize these challenges? Why or why not?
  3. What is the relationship between native Alaskans and walruses? Does this relationship surprise you? How may changes in the walrus population alter this relationship?
  4. How does knowing where animals are foraging help researchers study a population? What kinds of useful information can this provide? How is this information useful to researchers asked to advise on policy decisions like oil drilling leases or shipping lanes?

Resources

Adult female walruses on an ice floe with young. Notice the radio tag borne on her upper mid-back. This tag will monitor resting and foraging behavior and convey the information back to USGS scientists. Credit: U.S. Geological Survey, Department of the Interior/USGS, U.S. Geological Survey/photo by S.A. Sonsthagen

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