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Phenotypic plasticity and climate change: can polar bears respond to longer Arctic summers with an adaptive fast?

Overview of attention for article published in Oecologia, December 2017
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  • In the top 25% of all research outputs scored by Altmetric
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age (88th percentile)
  • High Attention Score compared to outputs of the same age and source (89th percentile)

Mentioned by

1 blog
7 tweeters
1 Facebook page

Readers on

21 Mendeley
Phenotypic plasticity and climate change: can polar bears respond to longer Arctic summers with an adaptive fast?
Published in
Oecologia, December 2017
DOI 10.1007/s00442-017-4023-0
Pubmed ID

John P. Whiteman, Henry J. Harlow, George M. Durner, Eric V. Regehr, Steven C. Amstrup, Merav Ben-David


Plasticity in the physiological and behavioural responses of animals to prolonged food shortages may determine the persistence of species under climate warming. This is particularly applicable for species that can "adaptively fast" by conserving protein to protect organ function while catabolizing endogenous tissues. Some Ursids, including polar bears (Ursus maritimus), adaptively fast during winter hibernation-and it has been suggested that polar bears also employ this strategy during summer. We captured 57 adult female polar bears in the Southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) during summer 2008 and 2009 and measured blood variables that indicate feeding, regular fasting, and adaptive fasting. We also assessed tissue δ13C and δ15N to infer diet, and body condition via mass and length. We found that bears on shore maintained lipid and protein stores by scavenging on bowhead whale (Balaena mysticetus) carcasses from human harvest, while those that followed the retreating sea ice beyond the continental shelf were food deprived. They had low ratios of blood urea to creatinine (U:C), normally associated with adaptive fasting. However, they also exhibited low albumin and glucose (indicative of protein loss) and elevated alanine aminotransferase and ghrelin (which fall during adaptive fasting). Thus, the ~ 70% of the SBS subpopulation that spends summer on the ice experiences more of a regular, rather than adaptive, fast. This fast will lengthen as summer ice declines. The resulting protein loss prior to winter could be a mechanism driving the reported correlation between summer ice and polar bear reproduction and survival in the SBS.

Twitter Demographics

The data shown below were collected from the profiles of 7 tweeters who shared this research output. Click here to find out more about how the information was compiled.

Mendeley readers

The data shown below were compiled from readership statistics for 21 Mendeley readers of this research output. Click here to see the associated Mendeley record.

Geographical breakdown

Country Count As %
Unknown 21 100%

Demographic breakdown

Readers by professional status Count As %
Student > Bachelor 5 24%
Student > Ph. D. Student 5 24%
Researcher 5 24%
Other 2 10%
Professor > Associate Professor 2 10%
Other 2 10%
Readers by discipline Count As %
Agricultural and Biological Sciences 15 71%
Environmental Science 3 14%
Medicine and Dentistry 2 10%
Unspecified 1 5%

Attention Score in Context

This research output has an Altmetric Attention Score of 15. This is our high-level measure of the quality and quantity of online attention that it has received. This Attention Score, as well as the ranking and number of research outputs shown below, was calculated when the research output was last mentioned on 27 May 2018.
All research outputs
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Outputs of similar age from Oecologia
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Altmetric has tracked 11,415,545 research outputs across all sources so far. Compared to these this one has done particularly well and is in the 93rd percentile: it's in the top 10% of all research outputs ever tracked by Altmetric.
So far Altmetric has tracked 2,807 research outputs from this source. They receive a mean Attention Score of 5.0. This one has done particularly well, scoring higher than 95% of its peers.
Older research outputs will score higher simply because they've had more time to accumulate mentions. To account for age we can compare this Altmetric Attention Score to the 295,016 tracked outputs that were published within six weeks on either side of this one in any source. This one has done well, scoring higher than 88% of its contemporaries.
We're also able to compare this research output to 77 others from the same source and published within six weeks on either side of this one. This one has done well, scoring higher than 89% of its contemporaries.