Population Ecology of Polar Bears

Video Shot in: 2009

Dr. Lily Peacock discusses the primary objective of her research, which is to understand and regulate the sustainable harvest of polar bears. To achieve this, she and her colleagues gather extensive population data by marking and tracking individual bears over time. They aim to determine population size, growth rate, survival rates, and birth rates through intensive population ecology studies. The research involves catching and marking a significant number of bears, with capture rates of 20 to 25 bears per day. Permanent marking is crucial to ensure accurate identification, so tattoos are applied to the inside of each upper lip, providing a permanent and unique mark for each bear. These tattoos are used to track bears’ lifespans and mortality rates. In addition to tattoos, satellite tracking devices are attached to some bears, allowing researchers to monitor their movements and behavior. Dr. Peacock mentions the advancement of non-color tags, such as ear tag transmitters and glue-on transmitters, which provide more comfortable tracking options for bears, particularly adult males whose necks are too large for traditional collars. This new technology allows researchers to study the movements of adult males and sub-adults, expanding their understanding beyond just female bears.