Washington, April 25 : The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has started a new investigation into whether climate change is affecting populations of the rare musk ox.
The four-year probe has been launched in collaboration with the National Park Service, US Geological Survey, and Alaska Fish and Game.
For gaining a better understanding of how climate change may affect the Ice Age relics, the researchers have equipped six musk ox with GPS collars. The devices attached to the musk ox will enable the research team to assess how they are faring in area the Chukchi and northern Bering Seas.
The researchers will also assess the extent to which snow and icing events, disease, and possibly predation may be affecting musk ox populations.
"Musk ox are a throwback to our Pleistocene heritage and once shared the landscape with mammoths, wild horses, and sabered cats," said the study's leader Dr. Joel Berger, a Wildlife Conservation Society scientist and professor at the University of Montana.
"They may also help scientists understand how arctic species can or cannot adapt to climate change," he added.
He also revealed that the research team would fix 30 to 40 more animals with GPS collars next year.
Once found in Europe and Northern Asia, today musk ox are restricted to Arctic regions in North America and Greenland, although they have been introduced into Russia and northern Europe.
They have been reintroduced in Alaska after being wiped out in the late 19th century.
Currently they found in two national parks - Alaska's Bering Land Bridge National Park and Cape Krusenstem National Monument.