How Musk Ox Make It Through Arctic Nights and Never-Ending Days - The New York Times
Oct 28, 2020 58 secs

However, the long night of Arctic winter and the endless day of its summer are very different from conditions in the rest of the planet.

And researchers report in a paper published Wednesday in Royal Society Open Science that musk oxen behavior does not seem to follow a daily pattern year-round.

The researchers used GPS collars to track 19 free-roaming musk oxen for up to three years, said Floris van Beest, an Arctic ecologist at Aarhus University in Denmark and an author of the new paper.

Rhythms were also very different in the winter than in the summer, with some oxen completely losing their patterns in the sunnier months and eating frequently but more or less at random.

To the researchers’ surprise, whether the musk oxen kept up their rhythmic behavior during the summer seemed to depend on the quality of food nearby.

This suggests that keeping a rhythm helps maximize the energy musk oxen get from sparse food.

Now the team is collecting information about musk oxen’s survival and their reproduction, to see whether breaking from their patterns in summer makes for a healthier life and more offspring in the extremes of the Arctic


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