Norwegian Lemmings Threatened by Climate Change

Image credit: Balsamia on Flickr
Norwegian Lemmings Suffer from "Wrong Type of Snow"
Earlier today Michael reported that climate change is reaking havoc on the axolotl (aka the "Mexican walking fish"). But the freaky looking fish isn't the only animal being driven to the brink of extinction. Given their reputation, it's amazing any are alive at all, but according to the BBC the lemming is now in serious trouble too
Jeremy actually touched on this issue last year when he wrote about threats to the Arctic predator population, but it seems that Norwegian lemmings have been having a tough time of late. Normally their numbers fluctuate in three to five year cycles. Some years would see populations so high that some lemmings would leap from cliffs into water — prompting the incorrect myth that the species practised collective suicide. But with snow cover decreasing, lemmings numbers are increasingly dwindling. The BBC explains why:

"Rather than hibernating, lemmings spend the winter living in the space between the ground and a stable layer of snow above. [ ] But the peak years are not occurring anymore. The research team, composed of Norwegian and French scientists, believes the winters are now too humid, leading to the "wrong kind of snow". This results in a less stable subnivean space (the space between the ground and the snow layer above), meaning substantially fewer animals survive until spring."

Tags: Animals | Conservation | Norway


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