Norwegian researchers observed the birth rate of Svalbard reindeer on the island of Spitzbergen between 1995 and 2011 and discovered that "rain on snow" events can have a negative impact on population growth.
The phenomenon - dubbed ROS for short - occurs when rain filters through the snow, causing ground ice that traps vegetation -- making it difficult for the reindeer to find food.
Microtus levis, a small, plant-eating rodent found on the island of Spitzbergen, also appears to experience population declines when ROS occurs during the Arctic winter.
Researchers say the study helps demonstrate one of the "likely consequences" of climate change.
The findings were published earlier this week in Biology Letters.