USGS at The Wildlife Society: From sea-ice change to contaminants to predators and prey

of the Arctic, polar bears have been heralded as the "canary in the coal mine" of global climate change, and recent reports suggest their Arctic ice habitat may be gone in 100 years. Some researchers have even suggested there is nothing we can do to prevent disappearance of the summer sea ice. As the apex predator in the Arctic, polar bears reflect the status of the ecosystem supporting them and are one of the best harbingers of the future of the Arctic ecosystem. Still, polar bears did somehow survive a period in the Holocene between 5 and 10 thousand years ago when temperatures were substantially warmer than they are now. These facts alone suggest there is reason to continue to study polar bears. Because current predictions of increasing temperature are based upon a relatively short time line there is uncertainty about what the future may bring. By knowing how polar bears respond to diminishing ice, resource managers and scientists will have the best chance of predicting where polar bears may continue to survive in a diminished ice environment and of adapting management strategies to reconcile the needs of bears with their altered habitat. This will maximize opportunities to assure the long-term survival of polar bears throughout whatever the future brings. Steven Amstrup, Session 13, Sunday, Sept. 24, 1:20-1:40 p.m.

The application of resource selection functions in polar bear research and management:

Resource selection functions (RSF) provide a powerful tool for understanding wildlife habitat associations and explaining wildlife distributions. Knowledge of the status and distribution of polar bear populations is necessary for managers to effectively address issues regarding hunting, industrial expansion, contaminants, international treaties, and sea ice degradation from climate change. While telemetry data can describe the general distribution and discreetness of polar bear populations, RSFs help to explain why polar bears occur where

Contact: Catherine Puckett
United States Geological Survey

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