Aarhus University Seal / Aarhus Universitets segl

Fat, Furry, Flexible, and Functionally Important: Characteristics of Mammals Living in the Arctic

New publication by Niels M. Schmidt, Olivier Gilg, Jon Aars, Rolf A. Ims

2021.02.05 | Peter Schmidt Mikkelsen


Mammals constitute a group of vertebrates that share a number of unique characteristics,such as nursing their young with milk, and having hair. The pattern of low mammal species diversity in the Arctic probably reflects a combination of mainly two driving factors: first, being homeotherms, mammals require a substantial amount of energy to sustain the various life processes, and the arctic regions are characterized by a very low availability of energy due to short seasons for primary production. Secondly, the occurrence of arctic mammals today reflects the reinvasion of the mammal species into the Arctic as the ecosystems were re‐established following the deglaciation. This chapter discusses the characteristics of the arctic mammals, including their unique adaptations to life, and their role as both consumer and food base in the arctic ecosystems. Climate change in the Arctic may also alter the interactions within food webs. 

Arctic Research Centre