WHITEHORSE, Mar. 23rd (UPI) - A survey of the arctic's biodiversity reports a 26 percent decline in species, including caribou and lemmings, in the past 34 years.
The Arctic Species Trend Index -- commissioned by Canada's Circumpolar Biodiversity Monitoring Program in Whitehorse, Yukon -- says while some declines might be part of a natural cycle, there is concern climate change could be exacerbating the cyclic declines.
In contrast, scientists say population levels of species living in the sub-Arctic and low Arctic are relatively stable and in some cases, increasing. Some fish species have also experienced population increases in response to rising sea temperatures.
"Rapid changes to the Arctic's ecosystems will have consequences … that will be felt globally," said Louise McRae of the Zoological Society of London. "The Arctic is host to abundant and diverse wildlife populations, many of which migrate annually from all regions of the globe. This region acts as a critical component in the Earth's physical, chemical and biological regulatory system."