A review of infectious agents in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and their long-term ecological relevance

EcoHealth
By: , and 

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Abstract

Disease was a listing criterion for the polar bear (Ursus maritimus) as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in 2008; it is therefore important to evaluate the current state of knowledge and identify any information gaps pertaining to diseases in polar bears. We conducted a systematic literature review focused on infectious agents and associated health impacts identified in polar bears. Overall, the majority of reports in free-ranging bears concerned serosurveys or fecal examinations with little to no information on associated health effects. In contrast, most reports documenting illness or pathology referenced captive animals and diseases caused by etiologic agents not representative of exposure opportunities in wild bears. As such, most of the available infectious disease literature has limited utility as a basis for development of future health assessment and management plans. Given that ecological change is a considerable risk facing polar bear populations, future work should focus on cumulative effects of multiple stressors that could impact polar bear population dynamics.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title A review of infectious agents in polar bears (Ursus maritimus) and their long-term ecological relevance
Series title EcoHealth
DOI 10.1007/s10393-015-1023-6
Volume 12
Issue 3
Year Published 2015
Language English
Publisher Springer
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB
Description 12 p.
First page 528
Last page 539
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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