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No animal is more symbolic of the Arctic than the polar bear. In the short space of 150,000 years, it has undergone behavioural and physiological changes to evolve from a grizzly bear into the most specialized predator of the Arctic sea ice. Yet, its survival is now threatened by global warming. Renowned Polar bear scientist Dr. Ian Stirling compresses 40 years of research on these iconic mammals into a new and comprehensive natural history. In accessible language, he explains their evolution, life history, behaviour, how they are researched, and the current threat to their very existence. He also explains why polar bears of Hudson Bay have become so important to our understanding of the species, and how Churchill became The Polar Bear Capital of the World
About the Author
As a research scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service and an Adjunct Professor at the University of Alberta, Dr. Ian Stirling has studied the behaviour, population, ecology, and predator-prey relationships of polar bears for 40 years, longer than anyone else in the world. His research in western Hudson Bay provided the first clear demonstration of climate change on resident polar bears there. He is a member of national and international committees on polar bears and marine mammals, and has authored or co-authored over 200 scientific articles and three books. He has won several awards, including the Northern Science Award, and is an Officer of the Order of Canada and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada.
“With this book – the best ever to be written about polar bears - we are blessed with the opportunity to benefit from Ian Stirling’s extensive knowledge and life-long experience with this magnificent animal. When he began his study of polar bears more than 40 years ago, knowledge was limited and research methods were crude. Ian and his many colleagues now use modern techniques, ranging from satellite imagery to telemetry equipment to DNA-analyses. The outcome is exciting and fascinating. Ian Stirling is not only a brilliant scientist – he has also a profound love for the Arctic’s nature and wildlife. He shows us that the far North is not a barren and hostile environment, but unique and beautiful. The fragile Arctic is, however, affected by climate change, transboundary pollution and other disturbances. The new knowledge presented in this book is crucial for conservation and management of Arctic nature and its polar bears. Read Ian Stirling’s book, admire the pictures and enjoy. And if you go North, be as careful as he is. Leave nothing but your footprints”. —Dr. Thor S. Larsen. Founding member of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and former Head of Biology Department and Director of Research at the Norwegian Polar Institute “For over thirty years now, whenever there is debate over polar bears, I have turned to Ian Stirling not just for definitive facts and figures, but for genuine wisdom and perspective. To work with Ian in the field is to experience a man entirely at home in the Arctic environment, not unlike the bears he knows so well”. —Monte Hummel, President Emeritus, WWF-Canada.