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:
LaRue, M., S. P. Stapleton, C. Porter, S. N. Atkinson, T. C. Atwood, and N. Lecomte. 2015. Testing methods for using high-resolution satellite imagery to monitor polar bear abundance and distribution. Wildlife Society Bulletin In Press. doi:10.1002/wsb.596 [Details] [Full Publication]
Obbard, M. E., S. P. Stapleton, K. R. Middel, I. Thibault, V. Brodeur, and C. Jutras. 2015. Estimating the abundance of the Southern Hudson Bay polar bear subpopulation with aerial surveys. Polar Biology In Press. doi:10.1007/s00300-015-1737-5 [Details] [Full Publication]
Oakley, K. L., T. C. Atwood, D. C. Douglas, K. D. Rode, and M. E. Whalen. 2015. Changing Arctic Ecosystems: Updated forecast: Reducing carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions required to improve polar bear outlook. 2015-3042, 2 p. doi:10.3133/fs20153042 [Details] [Full Publication] [PDF file 656 kb]
Bowen, L., A. K. Miles, J. L. Stott, S. Waters, and T. C. Atwood. 2015. Enhanced biological processes associated with alopecia in polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Science of the Total Environment 529:114-120. doi:10.1016/j.scitotenv.2015.05.039 [Details] [Full Publication]
Bowen, L., A. K. Miles, S. Waters, R. Meyerson, K. D. Rode, and T. C. Atwood. 2015. Gene transcription in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) from disparate populations. Polar Biology. doi:10.1007/s00300-015-1705-0 [Details] [Full Publication]
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]
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.