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Remote identification of polar bear maternal den habitat in northern Alaska

Arctic

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Abstract

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) give birth in dens of ice and snow to protect their altricial young. During the snow-free season, we visited 25 den sites located previously by radiotelemetry and characterized the den site physiognomy. Seven dens occurred in habitats with minimal relief. Eighteen dens (72%) were in coastal and river banks. These "banks" were identifiable on aerial photographs. We then searched high-resolution aerial photographs (n = 3000) for habitats similar to those of the 18 dens. On aerial photos, we mapped 1782 km of bank habitats suitable for denning. Bank habitats comprised 0.18% of our study area between the Colville River and the Tamayariak River in northern Alaska. The final map, which correctly identified 88% of bank denning habitat in this region, will help minimize the potential for disruptions of maternal dens by winter petroleum exploration activities.

Additional Publication Details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Remote identification of polar bear maternal den habitat in northern Alaska
Series title:
Arctic
Volume
54
Issue:
2
Year Published:
2001
Language:
English
Larger Work Type:
Article
Larger Work Subtype:
Journal Article
Larger Work Title:
Arctic
First page:
115
Last page:
121
Number of Pages:
7