Matter: In the Arctic, More Rain May Mean Fewer Musk Oxen

Other grazing species, like caribou or Dall sheep, also may be harmed by increasing rain in the Arctic, Dr. Bowyer said: “It bodes poorly for big mammals.”

A decade ago, Dr. Berger began traveling to Alaska to gather data on musk oxen. Each summer, he and his colleagues cruised across the frozen tundra in a sort of snow tractor until they found a herd.

Rather than running away, the animals would form a defensive circle. Dr. Berger used long-lens cameras to snap photographs of individuals and bounced lasers off them to determine how far away they were.


Pregnant musk oxen may struggle to find enough food, and their undersized offspring may die young or fail to mature quickly enough to maintain the population, researchers warn.

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