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USGS Changing Arctic Ecosystems: Enhancing forecasts of polar bear and walrus population response to a rapidly changing Arctic ecosystem (Onshore polar bears)

Ramifications of increased use of land by polar bears in Alaska - additional sampling to leverage ongoing study for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management.

Principal Investigators:
Atwood, Todd C.

Project Contacts:
Hilderbrand, Grant V., ghilderbrand@usgs.gov, 907-786-7076

Collaborators:
FWS - Alaska Region


Status: onGoing
Start Year: 2016
End Year: 2023

Location:
Beaufort Sea

USGS Mission Area and Program:
EcosystemsWildlife Program

Major Initiatives:
USGS - Changing Arctic Ecosystems Initiative
USGS - Marine and Freshwater Ecology Program

Web Links:
Organization Website:
Polar Bear Research
Project Website:
Changing Arctic Ecosystems

Keywords:
Biosphere > Ecological Dynamics > Species/Population Interactions

Abstract


A new and major piece of our current research program is targeted at polar bears summering on land in Alaska. This is a new behavior, and current estimates suggest that during recent minimums of sea ice extent up to 10% of the Southern Beaufort (SB) sea population has remained on land rather than following sea ice into the deep polar basin. The focus of this work is to examine demographic, behavioral and ecological ramifications of increased use of land by SB polar bears. Our current effort is funded by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and by USGS OCS funds at a level that allows study of onshore bears during August, when the bears have first come to shore. As part of the Changing Arctic Ecosystems initiative, we will conduct additional sampling of bears in fall. We also propose to conduct aerial surveys throughout the onshore season (August-September-October) to document distribution and abundance of bears onshore.

Project metadata record

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