GRE Essay Topic 959 - The following appeared as an editorial in a wildlife journal. "Arctic deer live on islands in Canada's arctic region. They search for food by moving over ice from island to island during the course of a year. Their habitat is limited to areas warm enough to sustain the plants on which they feed, and cold enough, at least some of the year, for the ice to cover the sea separating the islands, allowing the deer to travel over it. Unfortunately, according to reports from local hunters, the deer populations are declining. Since these reports coincide with recent global warming trends that have caused the sea ice to melt, we can conclude that the decline in arctic deer populations is the result of deer being unable to follow their age-old migration patterns across the frozen sea. " Discuss how well reasoned you find this argument.
Decline of arctic deer
Correlation does not equal causation. This scientific phrase has been used in different areas where research and speculations can be made. It explains that while two prospects appear to be related and trending together, it does not mean that one caused the other, that they simply may just be coincidental. As for the decrease of arctic deer and the rise in temperatures due to global warming, they appear related, it is not for certain if global warming caused the decline in the deer population.
There are multiple factors in the lives of the deer population, and if any of them begin to change, even slightly, it would affect their population size. While global warming seems to be a likely culprit, there are reasons that this change may not be affecting them significantly. It is not yet understood exactly how much “damage” has been done to all the environments because of global warming, it may be a slight decrease to the size of the islands the deer migrate to, which would be innocuous to them. The ice bridges could also still be intact, nothing has been said that they have not been able to move from island to island. So, even though, both of these events are occurring at the same time and are potentially correlated, there is no evidence for causation.
If the argument for global warming still stands, the warmth now inhabiting the area would increase plant and vegetation on the islands since the ice would be melting. The increase of a food source would encourage the population to grow instead of decrease. Even if the islands became smaller due to this warming effect and the land could only contain a certain size population, with the increase of vegetation, the population size should remain the same since one factor is increasing the size and the other is decreasing it, evening it out.
There are other factors not accounted for in the article as well. A decrease in population size could also be due to disease, excessive hunting, an increase in population size of a predator, or a limited supply of food. All of these other issues that could be causing the decrease in arctic deer are not commented on, are are potential reasons for what is being observed. With the information provided, no cause is able to be identified for why the deer populations are declining
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