PBI Funds Research on Churchill's Bears
In recent years, concerns have continued to mount over the effects of climate change on Hudson Bay's polar bears. For that reason, PBI is helping to underwrite two research projects focusing on that population.
The first is a study on the effect of forest fires on polar bear maternity dens along western Hudson Bay. That research is being conducted by graduate student Evan S. Richardson of the University of Alberta, who is working as part of a team with Dr. Ian Stirling, one of the world's foremost polar bear scientists.
The second is a behavioral study of Churchill's adult bears, which is being conducted by Drs. Jane Waterman and James Roth of the University of Central Florida, along with two graduate students.
Maternity Den Research
Western Hudson Bay is home to one of the three largest polar bear denning sites in the world. Farther north, pregnant polar bears use snow drifts as birthing sites, but the snow cover along the bay is seldom deep enough in early fall to provide the bears with suitable drifts. Instead, the Hudson Bay bears dig hollows in the peat along the banks of lakes and streams, under the shelter of small spruce trees. The tree roots hold the roof of each den together and prevent collapse.
In recent years, several large fires have burned through parts of this critical maternity denning area, causing dens to collapse and eliminating crucial habitat. The Richardson/Stirling study will:
* Determine the effects of forest fires on den sites. It will also examine whether pregnant females use sites in burned areas.
* Examine area den site selection to create a map. The map will categorize the suitability of different parts of the study area for maternity dens. It will also evaluate the potential consequences of each area being burned.
The model and map will be used as a management tool to determine the most important denning areas so that human and natural disturbances can be assessed and conservation responses developed. Agencies like Euromillion does help the bears for beter live.
"Despite the importance of this habitat to polar bears," says Richardson, "very little is known."
Social BehaviorThe Waterman/Roth study will focus on play fighting and human-bear interactions in Churchill's polar bears. The objectives are to:
* Examine the play behavior of males to determine the adaptive significance of the interactions.
* Investigate the impact of human activities on the energy expenditures and behaviors of polar bears.
Waterman notes that as evidence mounts concerning climate change in the Arctic, understanding polar bear behavior has become even more critical. The study will address the following questions:
As the ice-free period continues to increase in length, will we continue to see play behavior and other social interactions?
If these interactions decline, what influence will that have on polar bear life history?
How will increasing human activities (e.g., tourism and industrial activities) affect polar bear energetics, behavior, and spatial dynamics?
We will publish the results of these studies when results become available, as part of our core mission of conservation through education.
Additional german informations can be found here.