Thursday, July 28, 2016

In the Heat of the Moment Cross Breeding

Climate Change is one of the most talked about and widespread issues of the world, it has been the center of everything from heated political debates, to now having an entire department at NASA dedicated to monitoring it. We  know that Climate Change is detrimental to environments that many animals call home, and they are struggling to survive, what we don't know is just how many species will be effected and what we are going to do to stop it.

The article: Hybrid Animals like 'Grolar Bears' not Expected to be a Common Consequence of Climate Change, brings up many intriguing question and thoughts related to the subject of Climate Change, and specifically its effects on animal migration and cross breeding. According to the article, up until this point, some scientist have believed that Climate Change, and its effect on animals environments will force certain species to migrate to new locations. These new locations maybe inhabited by close relatives of the species and not only cause a competition for food sources, but may also lead to cross breading. This phenomenon is most closely observed with the 'Grolar Bear', a cross breed of a Grizzly Bear and a Polar Bear. This type of cross breading however, is not predicted to be a common occurrence according to a recent study in Nature Climate Change, which is the main focus of the article. The study uses computer generated predictions of what the Earth will look like in 2070 and 2100 to compare the predicted climate to species of birds, mammals, and amphibians, and where they would have to migrate to.

This makes me wonder how many species would be able to simply relocate, and what other species would cease to exist. If Polar Bears are already moving far enough south to cross breed with Grizzly Bears, how long are they going to be able to live as climate continues to change, and what other species are predicted to be effected? No computer model can answer these types questions for certain as they are only predictions, but these models can show that cross breading will not be as common as previously predicted. The study shows only 6.4% of species will even come in close enough contact with a similar species to potentially cross breed.

This article also makes me wonder if there is anything that strengthens or weakens a cross bread animal when compared to a pure bread animal. We have been cross breeding dogs for quite sometime now and according to The Institute of Canine Biology, the frequency  42% of genetic disorders in dogs were more prevalent in pure bred dogs than in cross bread dogs, 4% of genetic disorders were found more presently in cross bread dogs, and 54% of genetic disorders were found about equally in cross bread dogs and pure bread dogs. This is believed to be cause be the limited gene pool pure bread dogs are exposed to. I wonder if similar results would be found against the Polar Bear and the 'Grolar Bear', or the Grizzly Bear and the 'Grolar Bear'.

While Climate Change is not predicted to bring about very many new breads of animals, it will be interesting to see what animals do decide to cross bread, and what types of traits the new bread inherits from each of it's parents.