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Tracking bears to track climate change

Polar bear walking on ice

Researchers Stephen C. Lougheed (Biology), Peter Van Coeverden de Groot (Biology), and Graham Whitelaw (Environmental Studies) have been awarded $9.5 million in total partner cash and in-kind contributions – including $2.4 million from Genome Canada’s Large-Scale Applied Research Project competition – to monitor impacts of environmental change on polar bears. The project, entitled BEARWATCH, will combine leading-edge genomics and Indigenous traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) to develop a non-invasive means of tracking polar bear response to climate change.

“The polar bear is an iconic animal that has seen its habitat and ecology markedly impacted by climate change,” says Dr. Lougheed, the principal investigator on the project. “Based on non- invasive work we have done over the last decade with our colleagues at the Hunter and Trapper Organization [HTO] in Gjoa Haven in Nunavut, we viewed this funding call as an exceptional opportunity to work with Inuit of the Arctic to achieve more informed insights, via the monitoring of polar bears, as to how climate change is impacting the region.”

Read the original news release in the Queen’s Gazette.