Outline Research activities on polar bears and their ecosystem

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  • Research activities on polar bears and their ecosystem

  • Background: ecology

  • Geographic variation

  • Hints on possible effects…

  • Trends in persistent organic pollutants

    • monitoring

Ocean currents in the Arctic

Air currents

Study area

  • long food chain

  • high fat content


  • Predation:

    • Trophic relationships


Diet composition

  • Understanding diet is a key component for understanding movement of pollutants through an ecosystem

  • 2 “new” methods being used

    • Carbon and nitrogen isotopes
      • see papers by K.A. Hobson
    • Fatty acid composition
      • see Iverson et al. 2004 Ecological Monographs

Home ranges of 3 female polar bears

Effects of Pollution

Polychlorinated biphenyls

  • 209 congers (congener = type)

    • Vary by placement and number of chlorine atoms
    • Vary in toxicity and persistence
    • Developed in 1929 used in transformers, lubricants, hydraulics

Immune system - PCB relationships

Field experiment

  • Immunisation trial

  • Challenge immune system

  • 2 study areas

Effects of age

PCB in plasma associated with nutritional index

Transfer of pollution to young

Concentration of POPs in polar bear milk


    • repeated assessment of status of some quantity to detect change over time

Organochlorine changes between 1967 and 1994 for adult males and females sampled at Svalbard

Trend of PCB-153 in blood for polar bears in the Norwegian Arctic

Pollution in polar bears may impact:

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