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Male Polar Bear - photo by Steve Amstrup, USGSPolar 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 and habitat use. 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.

Our most recent publications include:

Peacock, E., M. K. Taylor, J. Laake and I. Stirling. 2014. Population ecology of polar bears in Davis Strait, Canada and Greenland. Journal of Wildlife Management 77(3):463-476. doi: 10.1002/jwmg.489

Vongraven, D., J. Aars, S. C. Amstrup, S. N. Atkinson, S. Belikov, E. W. Born, T. DeBruyn, A. E. Derocher, M. Gill, N. J. Lunn, M. E. Obbard, J. Omelak, N. G. Ovsyanikov, E. Peacock, E. Richardson, V. Sahanatien, I. Stirling, and Ø. Wiig. In Press. A circumpolar monitoring framework for polar bears. Ursus.

Miller, W., S. C. Schuster, A. J. Welch, A. Ratan, O. C. Bedoya-Reina, F. Zhao, H. Lim Kim, R. C. Burhans, D. I. Drautz, N. E. Wittekindt, L. P. Tomsho, E. Ibarra-Laclette, L. Herrera-Estrella, E. Peacock, S. Farley, G. K. Sage, K. Rode, M. Obbard, R. Montiel, L. Bachmann, Ó. Ingólfsson, J. Aars, T. Mailund, Ø. Wiig, S. L. Talbot, and C. Lindqvist. 2012. Polar and brown bear genomes reveal ancient admixture and demographic footprints of past climate change. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1210506109

Pagano, A. M., G. M. Durner, S. C. Amstrup, K. S. Simac, and G. S. York. 2012. Long-distance swimming by polar bears (Ursus maritimus) of the southern Beaufort Sea during years of extensive open water: Canadian Journal of Zoology 90:663-676. doi: 10.1139/z2012-033

Peacock, E., J. Laake, K. L. Laidre, E.W. Born, and S. Atkinson. 2012. The utility of harvest recoveries of marked individuals to assess polar bear (Ursus maritimus) survival. Arctic 65(4):391-400.

Primary funding for USGS polar bear research is provided by the USGS, including funding from the USGS Global Change Program, Outer Continental Shelf Program, and the Changing Arctic Ecosystems initiative.  Additional support is currently provided by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.

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.

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