Study: Wolverines need refrigerators

[That headline is from the Wildlife Conservation Society press release, printed as is. And why do Wolverines need refrigerators? The climate is getting warmer of course.  – Anthony]

Will insects and bacteria consume more of the wolverine’s food if the climate warms?

Caption: This is a wolverine. Credit: Mark Packila, WCS

Wolverines live in harsh conditions; they range over large areas of cold mountainous low-productivity habitat with persistent snow. The paper suggests wolverines take advantage of the crevices and boulders of the mountainous terrain, as well as the snow cover to cache and “refrigerate” food sources such as elk, caribou, moose and mountain goat carrion, ground squirrels and other food collected during more plentiful times of year. These cold, structured chambers provide protection of the food supply from scavengers, insects and bacteria. In addition, the refrigerated caches increase the predictability of available food resources, reduce the energy spent by females searching for food while in lactation phase, and decrease the time mothers spend away from cubs.

The paper appears in the current edition of the Journal of Mammalogy and was co-authored by Robert M. Inman of WCS, Audrey J. Magoun of Wildlife Research and Management, Jens Persson of the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, and Jenny Mattisson of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research.

“People don’t normally think of insects and microbes as being in competition for food with wolverines,” said lead author Robert Inman of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s North America Program. “But in fact, bacteria will devour an unprotected food source if that source is available.”

Through an extensive literary review, the authors noted that wolverine reproduction is confined to a brief period of the year, and the lactation phase in females (February through April) corresponds to a period of low availability of food resources. Wolverines, which are opportunistic foragers, have adapted by amassing food caches during the preceding winter months when food is more readily available. Without the cached food supply or an unforeseen alternative (such as a winter-killed ungulate), early litter loss occurs.

Inman said, “Understanding why and how wolverines exist where they do and the various adaptations they have evolved to eke out a living will better inform population management strategies and conservation of the species.”

Climate change will play a key role in management planning for the conservation of wolverines, the authors say.

In a study published in 2010, wolverine biologists demonstrated a relationship between the areas where wolverines exist (their distribution) and persistent snow cover. The first theory advanced was that wolverines must have deep snow available in springtime so that they can give birth to their small cubs in a warm, secure den. The newly released study suggests that other factors related to climate and snow pack, such as competition for food, may also be involved in explaining the limits to wolverine distribution.

Because of their dependence on snow pack, wolverines were recently listed as warranted for protection under the Endangered Species Act due in large part to the threat of climate change reducing distribution and habitat connectivity. The authors say that a deeper understanding of how and why wolverines use snow pack the ways they do is critical to understanding how climate change will impact survival and reproductive rates.

“Shedding light on the specific mechanism of how climate will affect wolverines is important in order to know what to do to help them hold on,” said WCS’s North America Program Director, Jodi Hilty.

Inman and co-authors published a study in December of 2011 on the spatial ecology of wolverines in the Journal of Wildlife Management. This latest paper represents the second of several that will help to inform a conservation strategy for the species.

###

Soon to be requested: Air conditioners for polar bears, chilled water systems for Penguins, and snow machines for reindeer, because as we’ve been told, nature didn’t equip these species with adaptation genes /sarc

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A B O@Brien

How did this species of animal survive the MWP or is this a species that evolved during the Little Ice Age?

Disko warmy Troop

As wolverines have been around since, at least, the last glaciation I suggest their response to this would be: if you eff off and leave us alone we’ll be fine. Much like the polar bear, hunting has been the problem along with habitat incursion. As usual, absolutely nothing to do with globull warming.

Vincent

One has to wonder whether the need for their refrigerators isn’t a direct result of the harsh climate, and if it become less harsh, the need for a refrigerator would disappear as food become more abundant.

H.R.

I thought immature wolverines were called undergrads. Now I find I’ll have to refer to them as cubs.
O – H…

Keith Pearson, Formerly bikermailman, Anon No Longer

I’m rather guessing the wolverine will be just fine. In fact, it should be our battle cry when the Russians Chinese North Koreans?!? Invade.

sophocles

Oh dear. The cute cuddly wolverines need help … just like the cute cuddly polar bears did.
If there is an animal with the personality to survive—at any cost—it’s a wolverine. If the
Polar Bear is the “Canadian Land Shark” these animals would be the Canadian Land
Barracuda …
.

Andrew Harding

This must be one of the most pointless articles I have ever read, talk about stating the obvious!
Like most articles of course you must read between the lines, which simply says; we need money for more research and by using the magic words”climate change”, low and behold, the money shall appear.
Soon to be requested: Air conditioners for polar bears, chilled water systems for Penguins, and snow machines for reindeer, because as we’ve been told, nature didn’t equip these species with adaptation genes /sarc
Tut, tut Anthony, just think of all the CO2 that will be released into the atmosphere, but hang on, there could then be more money released to carry out studies into ESIGW (Endangered Species Induced Global Warming) !!

Ben D.

What is needed is an ‘Insect and Bacteria Conservation Society’ so they can better manage the balance concerning the needs of both.
🙂

What little I’ve read about wolverines suggested that they were more opportunistic and hardier than the fragile creatures described in this article. Guess this goes to show that we really do need a static climate if any of these selected critters are to survive.

jono1066

I love the mindset.
`today we are studying wolverines, the information we get is what we need to “better inform population management strategies and conservation of the species.”
There does not seem to be a shred of humility there to even consider that wild animals may not want or need a human created (with all its flaws) management and conservation strategy.
They havent done particularly well with the polar bears, the recent population anomaly is frightening, and it took only human created satelite and the population of penguins doubled.
etc etc etc
My history book suggests that nature has a damn good way of looking after itself with the biodiversity issue over the short celestial life span of the earth, some species die off, some are created (mutate over time), and some continue.
carpe diem !

Sera

Here is where most of their paper was ‘lifted’ (from cited reference):
http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/wolverine/75FR78030.pdf
“On July 8, 2008 we received a Notice of Intent to Sue from Earthjustice alleging violations of the Act in our March 11, 2008, 12-month finding. On September 30, 2008, Earthjustice filed a complaint in the U.S. District Court, District of Montana, seeking to set aside and remand the 12-month finding back to the Service for reconsideration. On March 6, 2009, the Service agreed to settle the case with Earthjustice by voluntarily remanding the 12-month finding and issuing a new 12-month finding by December 1, 2010. Following the settlement agreement, the court
dismissed the case on June 15, 2009, and ordered the Service to comply with the settlement agreement. On April 15, 2010, the Service published a Notice of Initiation of a 12-month finding for wolverines in the contiguous United States (75 FR 19591).”

I thought at first they were going to need refrigerators to live in, ‘cos it would be too warm outside!

Roger Carr

The paper suggests wolverines take advantage of the crevices and boulders of the mountainous terrain, as well as the snow cover to cache and “refrigerate” food sources such as elk…

     This was the interesting bit to me.
     If wolverines are “aware” of the value of refrigeration (regardless of how they became aware) it seems to take the intelligence of animals a step forward; and I’m amazed and pleased.
     Something like crows using implements to dig food out of otherwise unreachable places.
     And Man discovering a well-thrown rock shortened a hunt.
     (But just wait until the wolverines begin contemplating climate change, the discipline which does not appear to require any great depth of knowledge, and absolutely no wisdom… Should be a shoo-in for them.)

Andrew30

“These cold, structured chambers provide protection of the food supply from scavengers”
Wolverines are scavengers living mainly on carrion (finding dead animals). This is what led to the stories of wolverines poaching trap-lines, and when a trapper was in the area the trapper became the hunted. Wolverines are second only to the honey-badger in the ‘I don’t back down form anything, get the [snip] away from my food’ department.
If you actually see a wolverine in the wild then you have a problem, more of a problem then if you see a bear. They don’t scare, they don’t run and they don’t back down and they don’t give up.
If the enviro-socialists are concerned about the wolverines and really want them to be more common then they should just instruct the roads department to chuck all road kill into the closest treed area. The wolverine lot would improve and it would bring a whole new level of commitment to the people providing road-side assistance for drivers.

temp

Another “If we don’t bring them socialism and government benefits they will never survive.” study…
Seems even animals must be brought under the complete umbrella of socialism.

mwhite

“they are tenacious predators with a taste for meat. Wolverines easily dispatch smaller prey, such as rabbits and rodents, but may even attack animals many times their size, such as caribou, if the prey appears to be weak or injured. These opportunistic eaters also feed on carrion—the corpses of larger mammals, such as elk, deer, and caribou. Such finds sustain them in winter when other prey may be thinner on the ground, though they have also been known to dig into burrows and eat hibernating mammals.”
http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/wolverine/
“Such finds sustain them in winter when other prey may be thinner on the ground”
So it could be said that things are easier in the summer if you are a wolverine.

“Shedding light on the specific mechanism of how climate will affect wolverines is important in order to know what to do to help them hold on.”
You’re joshin’ me, ain’tcha Jodi! Jodi?? (Sound of tenacious claw-skritching from nearby refrigerated rock-face)

Lokki

Has anyone else realized the great career opportunities that this global warming thing is going to open up? I just realized that there is going to be a huge opening for barbers… to shave all that unnecessary thick winter fur off the grizzly bears and wolves so they aren’t too warm in the mild/nonexistent winters we’re going to be having.

Gary

But can the wolverines get the windmill and solar panel installations through local zoning and environmental impact regulations to power those refridgerators?

john the big

Completely bullshit. Wolverines are scavengers. They can adapt to almost everything.
The biggest enemy is human.

Tom J

“People don’t normally think of insects and microbes as being in competition for food with wolverines,” said lead author Robert Inman of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s North America Program. “But in fact, bacteria will devour an unprotected food source if that source is available.”
You mean insects and bacteria will devour dead meat laying out in the wild? Wow, am I glad he told me this. I never would’ve known.

Chuck L

Wolverines are incredibly ferocious predators, despite their size, From Wiki
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wolverine
“The wolverine is a powerful and versatile predator and scavenger. Prey mainly consists of small to large-sized mammals and the wolverine has been recorded killing prey such as adult deer that are many times larger than itself. Prey species include porcupine, squirrel, beaver, marmot, rabbit, vole, mice, shrew, lemming, caribou, roe deer, white-tailed deer, mule deer, sheep, moose, and elk.[12] Smaller predators are occasionally preyed on, including martens, mink, foxes, canada lynx, weasels, Eurasian lynx,[13] and coyote and wolf pups. Wolverines often pursue live prey that is relatively easy to obtain, including animals caught in traps, newborn mammals and deer (including adult moose and elk) when they’re weakened by winter or immobilized by heavy snow. The diet is sometimes supplemented by bird’s eggs, birds (especially geese), roots, seeds, insect larvae and berries. A majority of the wolverine’s sustenance is derived from carrion, which they depend on almost exclusively in winter and early spring. Wolverines may find carrion themselves, feed on it after the predator is done feeding (especially wolf packs) or simply take it from another predator. Whether eating live prey or carrion, the wolverine’s feeding style appears voracious, leading to the nickname of “glutton” (also the basis of the scientific name). However, this feeding style is believed to be an adaptation to food that is scarcely encountered, especially in the winter.[14]
Armed with powerful jaws, sharp claws, and a thick hide,[15] wolverines, like most mustelids, are remarkably strong for their size. They may defend kills against larger or more numerous predators. There is at least one published account of a 12 pounds (5.4 kg) wolverine’s apparent attempt to steal a kill from a black bear (adult males weigh 400 to 500 pounds (180 to 230 kg). Unfortunately for the mustelid, the bear won what was ultimately a fatal contest.[16] Another account placed a polar bear of unknown age and weight together with a similar wolverine where the smaller, tenacious predator came out the victor.[17][18] Interestingly, while wolverines have dominated wolves in competitions over a carcass, some wolves become habituated to predating wolverines and, in such cases, wolves may lead to a complete absence of wolverines in a given area.[8]
Wolverines inhabiting the Old World (specifically, Fennoscandia) are more active hunters than their North American cousins.[19] This may be because competing predator populations in Eurasia are not as dense, making it more practical for the wolverine to hunt for itself than to wait for another animal to make a kill and then try to snatch it. They often feed on carrion left by wolves, so changes in the population of wolves may affect the population of wolverines.[20] Wolverines are also known on occasion to eat plant material.[21]”
I think they’ll be just fine!

General P. Malaise

even the lower latitudes of Canada are frozen in the time period in question. (feb to apr.).
this is more dumb alarmist agenda creation.

leftinbrooklyn

The polar bear thing aint workin’ out….time for a new mascot.

Jim Steele

Four years ago a wolverine moved south into the Tahoe National Forest north of Truckee CA for the first California sighting in several decades

Garacka

Can ecologist/animal studies folks start studying changes in range of various species in response to a new ice age that (worst case) reaches a clearly identifiable (and disturbingly) unstoppable onset over as little as a 10-20 year period?
People like me need to know if wolverines will encroach upon my southern New England (USA) chicken coop, requiring me to do some reinforcement upgrades in my lifetime.

Jimbo

What this idiotic paper is saying is:
Meat rots quicker when warm compared to being refrigerated.
I can imagine someone thinking about 50,000 years ago that humans will need fridges if they want their food to last longer. What an utter waste of paper.

Wolverines present a particular problem for the Madison Avenue public relations firms. Remote, viscious and physically unattractive mammals do not have the tear drop capacity of sea otter, harp seals and polar bear clubs. Rebranding will require routine Hollywood make-over and a less threatening name change. Strong familial links will allow easy transition to the related bear populations. Current focus group selections include Pandarines or Kolarines. Expect happy meal action figures and interactive, life function correct stuffed cuddlies to follow. Soon the “Adopt a Pandarine” movement will be able to provide a long term solution to the insect and bactaria intrusion.

eyesonu

“… Because of their dependence on snow pack, wolverines were recently listed as warranted for protection under the Endangered Species Act due in large part to the threat of climate change reducing distribution and habitat connectivity …”
==============
Due to the THREAT of climate change?
The Endangered Species Act needs serious redefining. Seriously, I would say that 90% of the Act’s current interpretation needs to be eliminated. A law that is abused to the degree of the ESA is a bad law. Better none that as it stands now. Same goes with the EPA. Hell probably half of the federal agencies are built and expanded upon bogus premises such as the ESA and EPA interpretations of federal regulations. The so-called ‘environmental’ lobby will lead to the downfall of true and necessary protections.

geronimo

I don’t know where wolverines live in terms of altitude, but if the world warms by 4C they will only have to move up 2000ft to find the same conditions they’re living in today.

Think Tank Update ! ! !
“Adopt a Pandarine” is judged tame and formulaic….the great success in ‘outcome based re-education’ has allowed marketing to suggest going ‘all in’ and calling this campaign just what it is….
PANDERING FOR PANDARINES !

Mariana Britez

OT but is this important? re BIAS in Mann08 by Lucia. Another nail in his hockey stick cruxificion LOL
http://rankexploits.com/musings/2012/mann08-figure-2b-do-you-see-what-i-see/
Maybe a simple posting of what she purports to have found should do.. or is it worth it? Remove posting here if you want later

All the wolverines have to do is to look out for all the pikas baking to death in the noonday sun, too stupid to move the short distance uphill to the snowline.
“But in fact, bacteria will devour an unprotected food source if that source is available.”
That’s a cracker of a quote – presumably there’s no evidence for bacteria consuming food that’s not available?
A fair number of climate scientists, conservationists and zoologists must have been born in the MWP – the Mid-late 20th.century Wonk Period., when the Good Lord was running short of fully-developed brains, and issued them preferentially to realists and sceptics.

If a wolverine can triumph over a polar bear (per Chuck L, above) we seem to have an ethical dilemma for those who feel intervention in nature is required. Which animal’s interests are wildlife specialists supposed to look out for?
At the root of all this we have a societal problem of too many funded researchers with too much time on their hands imagining that the planet can be managed.
If that brainpower were to be diverted towards something productive they could be a help to our survival rather than an annoyance. Instead we get this curious mix of self-abasement (Humans are the problem) and hubris (The Authors can help with the solution). I can only resolve that contradiction by concluding that many earnest scientists don’t believe that they are human.

Brian H

Another demonstration of the (stupid) ingenuity of rent-seekers.

Sounds kooky but they’re serious and I am looking forward to their findings about how much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood.

Craig Moore

I have seen wolverines in the Milk River drainage near Malta, MT. Somehow they survive the 90-100+ F summers on lowland prairie nowhere near mountains.

Pat Frank

Turning things around a bit to demonstrate the implicit fatuosity of the article: As the cold-phase PDO deepens some scientists will worry,
Headline: “Will wolverines consume more of the insects’ and bacteria’s food if the climate cools?
Concerned scientist: “People don’t normally think of wolverines as being in competition for food with insects and microbes,” said lead author Ibert Ronman of the Wildbug Conservation Society’s North America Program. “But in fact, wolverines will devour an unprotected food source if that source is available.
What I find fatuous about the topic is not the impulse to study wolverines, but the opportunistic use of global warming to manufacture a specious context. One after another, all such studies have the same implicit fulcrum on which their concern is leveraged: that all species live on a razor-thin ridge of survival, and any tiny change in temperature will slide them off into the abyss of extinction.
It’s a sign of how far the normative has slipped into foolishness that such stuff is now viewed as legitimate. It’s Hannah Arendt’s thesis about the banality of evil, now operating in science. Except in science we’re not witnessing the migration of social morality into evil, but rather the migration of hard-minded scientific acuity into flabby sanctimonious cultism.

Gary Pearse

Several years ago my son was confronted by a very aggressive wolverine while tree planting in the coast range of British Columbia. He and his fellow workers ran and jumped into the box of a pickup and fended him off with shovels until he turned and disappeared into the brush. This was well below the permanent snow essentially in the rain forest (They don’t cut down sticks in BC). I’m sceptical of this confident, territorial, sturdy fellow needing much help in a forest of abundance.
I’m also sceptical of the knowledge that activist wildlife experts possess after their losing a colony of emperor penguins (later found by NASA in satellite imagery).
“Caused by climate change?
The cause of the disappearance is not clear-cut, but the EVIDENCE indicates a connection to climate change”.
http://bing.search.sympatico.ca/?q=missing%20emperor%20penguins&mkt=en-ca&setLang=en-CA
Or the devastation of certain polar bear colonies. They eventually were spotted by air
somewhere else and this final incident in a chain of failures at last took the polar bear off the main posters. Come to think of it, I haven’t heard much about the decline of the emperor penguin since this gaff either. Like the word “mistake” in social sciences (e.g. Snodgrass went on a 10 year binge of breaking and entry and armed robbery. He is sorry for his ‘mistakes’ and asked for leniency), ‘Evidence’ has lost its unequivocal meaning and is now a post normal science term to toss out in lieue of real data.

Gunga Din

H.R. says:
July 14, 2012 at 2:33 am
I thought immature wolverines were called undergrads. Now I find I’ll have to refer to them as cubs.
O – H…
=======================================================================
I – O!
Are those cows still frozen in that shelter in Colorado? Maybe the wolverines just need a map.

alcuin

I had the good fortune to see a wolverine while mountain climbing in the Alaska Range during the early 1960s. We were proceeding up a small glacial valley when we saw it moving in the same direction on the other side of the valley. It loped over the rock-strewn moraine in an almost ape-like manner, and appeared impressively powerful. Our good fortune extended further in that the wolverine seemed not to notice us.

Olen

The study is fine except for how much do they know that can be proven about the climate and how and at what rate it will change that they can devote so much energy on one outcome and determine how a species will act and call it science?
Unable to sell climate change they are now attempting to sell the consequences of climate change.
The wolverine kill elk and elk have been known to attack trucks.

dp

Interesting that the suggestion of refrigerators for wolverines is an acceptance of adaption as a solution rather than mitigation. How can we get them to apply that reasoning to people?
Has anyone registered the RefrigeratorsForWolverines.org domain yet?

This is a “wolverines! , wolverines!” cry.

Wolverines, like many other species have survived the greatest threat possible, humans. They surely don’t need any more help from us but I suspect substantially less habitat distraction would be useful. These animals were common across North America in such places as Ontario, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Upper Michigan and so on, pre ±1880. What these “believers” seem not to understand about animals like Wolverines is their present habitat is more refuge then normal range which was much further south in the past. Hay like all of us northerners a little more warm is a welcome thing. You got to live here to understand it.

Refrigerators! What next, BBQs?

papiertigre

Here in California we have extensive rock glaciers. More than enough to serve our one wolverine’s refrigeration needs.

There is something to be said for providing the necessary funding to send a large number of these folks out to research the wolverine in its natural habitat. Given that that habitat is some of the most rugged and perilous available and that, in general, these folks seem to have developed their entire concept of Nature from too many repeat viewings of “Bambi” when they were children, having large numbers of them blundering about in pursuit of wolverines will greatly enhance the opportunities for “The Darwin Effect” to come into play i.e. Nature weeding out the stupid. There would seem to be a significant possibility that our future selves could be burdened by fewer examples of this kind of BS, by simply giving them exactly what they ask for and letting Nature take its course.

Poor Yorek

Wolverine = life support system for four claws.

Interstellar Bill

Let’s not forget to give a figurative ‘gag me with a spoon’
every time you see them mis-use ‘Climate Change’
as shorthand for ‘Every disaster we’re predicting’.
The sheer arrogant smugness of their presumption defies reality,
for as long as they repeat it by the thousands, every minute,
‘Climate Change’ means ONLY what they want it to,
a ‘threat’ they will ‘combat’ by destroying our prosperity & freedom.