Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are one of 4 marine mammal species managed by the U.S. Department of Interior. The USGS Alaska Science Center conducts long–term research on polar bears to inform local, state, national and international policy makers regarding conservation of the species and its habitat. Our studies, ongoing since 1985, are focused on population dynamics, habitat use, foraging ecology and health. The majority of our research is conducted on the Southern Beaufort Sea population of Alaska and neighboring Canada. The goal of our current research efforts is to refine and enhance models to project the future status of polar bears in the rapidly changing Arctic environment, as part of the Changing Arctic Ecosystem Initiative.
Our most recent publications include:
Rode, K. D., C. T. Robbins, L. Nelson, and S. C. Amstrup. 2015. Can polar bears use terrestrial foods to offset lost ice-based hunting opportunities?. Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment 13:138-145. doi:10.1890/140202 [Details] [Full Publication]
Rogers, M. C., E. Peacock, K. S. Simac, M. B. O'Dell, and J. M. Welker. 2015. Diet of female polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea of Alaska: evidence for an emerging alternative foraging strategy in response to environmental change. Polar Biology. doi:10.1007/s00300-015-1665-4 [Details] [Full Publication]
Regehr, E. V., R. R. Wilson, K. D. Rode, and M. C. Runge. 2015. Resilience and risk—A demographic model to inform conservation planning for polar bears. USGS Open-File Report 2015-1029, 56 p. doi:10.3133/ofr20151029 [Details] [Full Publication]
Atwood, T. C., B. G. Marcot, D. C. Douglas, S. C. Amstrup, K. D. Rode, G. M. Durner, and J. F. Bromaghin. 2015. Evaluating and ranking threats to the long-term persistence of polar bears. USGS Open-File Report 2014-1254, 114 p. doi:10.3133/ofr20141254 [Details] [Full Publication]
Peacock, E., S. A. Sonsthagen, M. E. Obbard, A. N. Boltunov, E. V. Regehr, N. Ovsyanikov, J. Aars, S. N. Atkinson, G. K. Sage, A. G. Hope, E. Zeyl, L. Bachmann, D. Ehrich, K. T. Scribner, S. C. Amstrup, S. E. Belikov, E. W. Born, A. E. Derocher, I. Stirling, M. K. Taylor, Ř. Wiig, D. Paetkau, and S. L. Talbot. 2015. Implications of the circumpolar genetic structure of polar bears for their conservation in a rapidly warming Arctic. PLoS One 10(1): e112021. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0112021 [Details] [Full Publication]
1The other species managed by the DOI are sea otters, Pacific walrus, and manatees. The U.S. Department of Commerce manages all other marine mammals.