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:
Bromaghin, J. F., S. M. Budge, G. W. Thiemann, and K. D. Rode. 2016. Assessing the robustness of quantitative fatty acid signature analysis to assumption violations. Methods in Ecology and Evolution 7(1):51-59. doi:10.1111/2041-210X.12456 [Details] [Full Publication]
Rode, K. D., C. A. Stricker, C. Erlenbach, C. T. Robbins, S. G. Cherry, S. D. Newsome, A. Cutting, S. Jensen, G. Stenhouse, M. Brooks, A. Hash, and N. Nicassio. 2016. Isotopic incorporation and the effects of fasting and dietary lipid content on isotopic discrimination in large, carnivorous mammals. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology. doi:10.1086/686490 [Details] [Full Publication]
Whiteman, J. P., H. J. Harlow, G. M. Durner, R. Anderson-Sprecher, S. E. Albeke, E. V. Regehr, S. C. Amstrup, and M. Ben-David. 2015. Summer declines in activity and body temperature offer polar bears limited energy savings. Science 349(6245):295-298. doi:10.1126/science.aaa8623 [Details] [Full Publication]
Ware, J. V., K. D. Rode, A. M. Pagano, J. F. Bromaghin, C. T. Robbins, J. A. Erlenbach, and H. T. Jansen. 2015. Validation of mercury tip-switch and accelerometer activity sensors for identifying resting and active behavior in bears. Ursus 26(2):86-96. doi:10.2192/URSUS-D-14-00031.1 [Details] [Full Publication]
Rode, K. D., R. R. Wilson, E. V. Regehr, M. St. Martin, D. C. Douglas, and J. Olson. 2015. Increased land use by Chukchi Sea polar bears in relation to changing sea ice conditions. PLoS One 10(11):e0142213. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0142213 [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.