As the climate warms, polar bears are being forced to change their behaviour, and their phenology – the timing of seasonal biological events, such as denning and breeding – is shifting.
For example, research shows that as polar bears lose access to their typical diet of seals, they are becoming increasingly reliant on other types of food, including whale carcasses, sea duck eggs and reindeer.
Derocher tells Carbon Brief that as polar bears are being forced to spend more time on land, they are more likely to be seen in human rubbish dumps as they “seek alternative foods”. He adds that this raises questions around “human-bear interactions”. For example, research finds that longer ice-free periods are linked to increasing conflict between humans and polar bears.
Manager’s Office Team