While climate change is drastically impacting polar bears' habitats by shrinking the Arctic ice they call home, Scientific American reports some of the bears are being forced to change their diets, resulting in lower mercury consumption. Mercury is toxic to the bears, and can impair neurological development if consumed at high levels.

Melissa McKinney, an ecotoxicologist at the University of Connecticut, conducted a study of the Southern Beaufort Sea polar bear subpopulation. Studying hair samples from 2004 to 2011, McKinney saw "a 65% drop in the bears' mercury levels."

Good news/Bad news: McKinney said while the "bad news is that the bears are losing vital habitat," the good news is that bears being forced to change their diets "have lower levels of toxic mercury."

Go deeper: Because of the shrinking ice, bears are unable to hunt their normal prey: seals. By being forced on land, they have had to find food elsewhere. Some have gravitated toward eating bowhead whale carcasses that have been picked apart and discarded by hunters. McKinney explains in her study that only 20% of the bears are feeding on these carcasses, leaving 80% of the population to fast until the freezing season when they can hunt more successfully. If the other 80% of the bears start feeding on the whale carcasses as well, "the subsidies may not be sufficient for the number of individuals making use of them."

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Markets swell as the economy shrinks

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

The economy is sputtering, but the markets are thriving — a highly unusual event that shows how the coronavirus has thrown all bets off.

Why it matters: The disconnect adds to the wealth gap. The richest 10% of households — who own 84% of stocks — are getting richer, while millions of out-of-work Americans cross their fingers that pandemic unemployment benefits will be extended.

Updated 9 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 10,836,500 — Total deaths: 520,605 — Total recoveries — 5,723,808Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 10 p.m. ET: 2,735,554 — Total deaths: 128,684 — Total recoveries: 781,970 — Total tested: 33,462,181Map.
  3. Public health: The states where face coverings are mandatory Regeneron stops trial after drug fails to help patientsWhat we know about the coronavirus immune response — Fauci says it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the coronavirus in the U.S.
  4. Business: Top business leaders urge the White House to develop mandatory mask guidelines.
  5. Politics: Herman Cain hospitalized for COVID-19 after attending Trump Tulsa rally — Biden downplays jobs number, rebukes Trump for ignoring health crisis.
  6. Economy: The economy may recover just quickly enough to kill political interest in more stimulus.
  7. States: Texas mandates face masks in public spaces Florida reports more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases, and its most-infected county issues curfew.
10 hours ago - Health

Fauci: Coronavirus surges mark a "very disturbing week" in the U.S.

Fauci testifies to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee on June 30. Photo: Al Drago/AFP via Getty Images

NIAID director Anthony Fauci told medical journal JAMA on Thursday that it has been a "very disturbing week" for the spread of the novel coronavirus in the U.S.

What's happening: The number of coronavirus cases increased in the vast majority of states over the last week, and decreased in only two states plus the District of Columbia, Axios' Caitlin Owens reports.