Climate change may throw off Arctic squirrel mating 

Females are emerging earlier in the spring

Climate change appears to be leading female Arctic ground squirrels to emerge earlier from hibernation, raising questions about how that will affect the squirrels’ mating cycle. Males typically emerge first, giving them time to regain testosterone levels, which fall during the winter. But in a paper published in Science, researchers found that females are emerging up to 10 days earlier than they used to, but males aren’t.  

“This could have important implications for reproduction,” lead author Helen E. Chmura, a research ecologist with the U.S. Forest Service, told the New York Times. It could also have ramifications throughout the food web. In northern Alaska, a variety of predators rely on Arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii) as a food source.  

Read more in the New York Times

Header Image: Climate change is affecting when female Arctic ground squirrels emerge from hibernation. Credit: Steve Hillebrand/USFWS