Polar bears in Svalbard archipelago are inbreeding due to sea ice loss

A polar bear in the Svalbard archipelago

Shutterstock / Ondrej Prosicky

As global warming causes Arctic ice to melt away, archipelago-based polar bears are having more difficulty reaching each other, especially during mating season, resulting in what a research team has dubbed an “alarming” drop in gene flow genetic diversity due to inbreeding.

Researchers at the Norwegian Polar Institute in Tromsø have been collecting small tissue samples from polar bears (Ursus maritimus) inhabiting Svalbard’s islands in the Arctic Barents Sea since 1995. Most of these bears usually roam across ice paths throughout the …

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