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Alaska Science Center

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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.

tracking map example

Tracking Polar Bears by Satellite

The USGS Alaska Science Center uses the latest technology in satellite radio-tracking to fill key information gaps on how polar bears use both the sea ice and land. Read more…

Collared polar bear female and cub

Population Dynamics

Wildlife managers need information on the status and trends of populations, and the USGS has focused its polar bear research program on dynamics of the southern Beaufort Sea population. Read more…

Polar bear swimming in open water

Polar Bear-Sea Ice Relationships

Polar bears are tied to the sea ice for nearly all of their life cycle functions. Because of their dependence upon the sea ice for food, these changes can directly affect the carrying capacity of the Arctic for polar bears. USGS studies are documenting responses to these changes in sea ice. This will give managers the best chance of adapting strategies to assure long term polar bear survival in a changing ice environment. Read more…

Subset of a Bayesian network model used in polar bear forecasting

Forecasting the Future Status of Polar Bears

During 2007, USGS led an intensive research effort to project future status of polar bears. This research projected major declines by mid-century in polar bear distribution and abundance and became an important consideration in the 2008 decision to list polar bears as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. New work is currently supported by the Changing Arctic Ecosystems initiative. Read more ...

Polar bear sticking it's head of it's den


Polar bears give birth in snow dens in mid-winter, and remain in dens until early spring. Data on polar bear maternal den locations provide information for natural resource agencies in planning activities to avoid or minimize interference with polar bear maternity dens. Read more ...

Contact Information

If you have questions about research or media inquiries regarding the USGS Alaska Science Center please contact:

Yvette Gillies

Communication and Outreach Coordinator
USGS - Alaska Science Center

Paul C. Laustsen

USGS Office of Communications


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Page Last Modified: December 7, 2016