Feeds

Boffins: global warming kills lemmings, not suicide

Norwegian rodents dying against will

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

SANS - Survey on application security programs

The Norwegian lemming population is dwindling - through no fault of its own.

According to a report published in the science journal Nature, lemming numbers are shrinking thanks to rising temperatures brought on by global warming, putting an end to the population peaks and valleys that have traditionally characterized the species. "The lemming population is falling and the peaks are disappearing," Oslo University's Nils Stenseth, one of the authors of the study, told Reuters.

In the past, the lemming population has peaked and valleyed every three to five years - a cycle that gave rise to the widely held belief that lemmings like to kill themselves. But according to Stenseth, the last peak hit in 1994.

Warmer temperatures, he says, have eliminated gaps under powdery Norwegian snow where female lemmings have historically hidden and fed their litters in early spring.

With the lemming peaks disappearing, predators are forced to turn elsewhere. "A relatively small effect on one particular species is having a broad effect on the system," Stenseth said. "Now when the lemming peak is gone...they will prey on other species such as ptarmigan and grouse."

And if there's no peak, there's no valley. Past population booms meant food shortages for the lemmings themselves, driving some to desperation."On occasion, desperate to find food, they jump into water and start swimming. This behavior led to the myth that lemmings commit suicide," said Tim Coulson of Imperial College, London, in a commentary on the Nature study. ®

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN's Punch and Judy show relaunches Thursday
Weather looking good for second pop at test flights
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Curiosity finds not-very-Australian-shaped rock on Mars
File under 'messianic pastries' and move on, people
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
New FEMTO-MOON sighted BIRTHING from Saturn's RING
Icy 'Peggy' looks to be leaving the outer rings
Melting permafrost switches to nasty, high-gear methane release
Result? 'Way more carbon being released into the atmosphere as methane'
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a defence for mobile apps
In this whitepaper learn the various considerations for defending mobile applications; from the mobile application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies needed to properly assess mobile applications risk.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.