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Scientists say reindeer may be shrinking due to warming

FILE _ This is a April 20, 2011 file photo of wild reindeer foraging for food on the island of Spitsbergen which is part of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Reindeer living on the Arctic island of Svalbard are getting smaller _ and global warming may be the cause. Scientists from Britain and Norway have found that adult Svalbard reindeer born in 2010 are now 12 percent lighter on average than those born in 1994.(Ben Birchall/PA, File via AP)

FILE _ This is a April 20, 2011 file photo of wild reindeer foraging for food on the island of Spitsbergen which is part of the Svalbard archipelago in Norway. Reindeer living on the Arctic island of Svalbard are getting smaller _ and global warming may be the cause. Scientists from Britain and Norway have found that adult Svalbard reindeer born in 2010 are now 12 percent lighter on average than those born in 1994.(Ben Birchall/PA, File via AP)  (The Associated Press)

Reindeer living on the Arctic island of Svalbard are getting smaller — and scientists say climate change may be the cause.

Scientists from Britain and Norway have found that adult Svalbard reindeer born in 2010 weigh 12 percent less on average than those born in 1994.

Ecologist Steve Albon of Scotland's James Hutton Institute says rising temperatures in the Arctic mean Svalbard is getting more rain, creating a hard ice sheet the island's reindeer can't easily break through to reach food.

Reindeer populations are also increasing due to warmer summers, stoking competition.

Albon says researchers think there is a correlation between rising temperatures and reindeer weight. He says more research is needed to confirm the link.

Their findings were presented Monday at a meeting of the British Ecological Society.