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Eric V. Regehr

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Polar bears depend entirely on sea ice for survival. In recent years, a warming climate has caused major changes in the Arctic sea ice environment, leading to concerns regarding the status of polar bear populations. Here we present findings from long-term studies of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea (SBS) region of the U.S. and Canada, which are relevant to these concerns. We applied open population capture-recapture models to data collected from 2001 to 2006, and estimated there were 1,526 (95% CI = 1,211; 1,841) polar bears in the SBS region in 2006. The number of polar bears in this region was previously estimated to be approximately 1,800. Because precision of earlier estimates was low, our current estimate...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Open-File Report
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Changes in the abundance and distribution of wildlife populations are common consequences of historic and contemporary climate change. Some Arctic marine mammals, such as the polar bear (Ursus maritimus), may be particularly vulnerable to such changes due to the loss of Arctic sea ice. We evaluated the impacts of environmental variation on demographic rates for the Western Hudson Bay (WH), polar bear subpopulation from 1984 to 2011 using live-recapture and dead-recovery data in a Bayesian implementation of multistate capture–recapture models. We found that survival of female polar bears was related to the annual timing of sea ice break-up and formation. Using estimated vital rates (e.g., survival and reproduction)...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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Recent observations suggest that polar bears (Ursus maritimus) are increasingly using land habitats in some parts of their range, where they have minimal access to their preferred prey, likely in response to loss of their sea ice habitat associated with climatic warming. We used location data from female polar bears fit with satellite radio collars to compare land use patterns in the Chukchi Sea between two periods (1986–1995 and 2008–2013) when substantial summer sea-ice loss occurred. In both time periods, polar bears predominantly occupied sea-ice, although land was used during the summer sea-ice retreat and during the winter for maternal denning. However, the proportion of bears on land for > 7 days between...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: PLoS ONE
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BackgroundSatellite telemetry studies provide information that is critical to the conservation and management of species affected by ecological change. Here we report on the performance and retention of two types (SPOT-227 and SPOT-305A) of ear-mounted Argos-linked satellite transmitters (i.e., platform transmitter terminal, or PTT) deployed on free-ranging polar bears in Eastern Greenland, Baffin Bay, Kane Basin, the southern Beaufort Sea, and the Chukchi Sea during 2007–2013.ResultsTransmissions from 142 out of 145 PTTs deployed on polar bears were received for an average of 69.3 days. The average functional longevity, defined as the number of days they transmitted while still attached to polar bears, for SPOT-227...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Animal Biotelemetry
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In the southern Beaufort Sea of the United States and Canada, prior investigations have linked declines in summer sea ice to reduced physical condition, growth, and survival of polar bears (Ursus maritimus). Combined with projections of population decline due to continued climate warming and the ensuing loss of sea ice habitat, those findings contributed to the 2008 decision to list the species as threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Here, we used mark–recapture models to investigate the population dynamics of polar bears in the southern Beaufort Sea from 2001 to 2010, years during which the spatial and temporal extent of summer sea ice generally declined. Low survival from 2004 through 2006 led to...
Categories: Publication; Types: Citation; Tags: Ecological Applications
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