In the short space of 150,000 years, the polar bear has evolved from a grizzly bear into the most specialized predator of the arctic sea ice. Through behavioral, morphological, and physiological changes, the polar bear has become totally adapted to living comfortably in one of the harshest environments on the planet. Yet, the very survival of this unique mammal is now threatened by global climate warming.
Dr. Ian Stirling, the best known polar bear scientist in the world will explain how polar bears evolved, how researchers study them, aspects of their behavior, how they prey and live on various marine mammals, how seals and bears have evolved in response to each other, and how, specifically, they have come to be threatened by climate warming. Stirling’s concern is that, “Climate warming is causing significant changes to the distribution and availability of sea ice at critical times of the year.” He will share his research that highlights the significant negative effects of the loss of ice polar bears, and on the seals they depend upon. These effects have been documented in Western Hudson Bay and the Southern Beaufort Sea in Canada. Some effects are also being documented in Svalbard and similar observations will likely follow in other populations. Stirling’s presentation includes startling facts along with stunning Arctic photos.
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