Foraging Ecology of Polar Bears in Foxe Basin and Hudson Bay, Canada
PI: Gregory Thiemann
The overarching objective of this research is to identify the ecological and environmental factors that shape polar bear foraging success and drive their population dynamics in the Foxe Basin-Hudson Bay complex. Both new and established techniques will be used to characterize the diets, body condition, and habitat use of polar bears to examine the individual-, population- and community-level processes that drive polar bear foraging ecology. It is hypothesized that climate change will drive a shift in the feeding habits of polar bears away from a predominantly specialized diet of ringed seals (Pusa hispida) to a more diverse, opportunistic feeding strategy that includes more temperate species of marine mammals and increased rates of scavenging. Due to their position at the top of the Arctic marine food web, polar bears can provide important insights into changes at lower tropic levels as Foxe Basin-Hudson Bay undergoes a hypothesized regime shift in species composition. Funding: World Wildlife Fund (WWF) $25,000.