Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) depend on ice-covered seas to satisfy life history requirements. Modern threats to polar bears include oil spills in the marine environment and changes in ice composition resulting from climate change. Managers need practical models that explain the distribution of bears in order to assess the impacts of these threats. We explored the use of discrete choice models to describe habitat selection by female polar bears in the Beaufort Sea. Using stepwise procedures we generated resource selection models of habitat use. Sea ice characteristics and ocean depths at known polar bear locations were compared to the same features at randomly selected locations. Models generated for each of four seasons confirmed complexities of habitat use by polar bears and their response to numerous factors. Bears preferred shallow water areas where different ice types intersected. Variation among seasons was reflected mainly in differential selection of total ice concentration, ice stages, floe sizes, and their interactions. Distance to the nearest ice interface was a significant term in models for three seasons. Water depth was selected as a significant term in all seasons, possibly reflecting higher productivity in shallow water areas. Preliminary tests indicate seasonal models can predict polar bear distribution based on prior sea ice data.
|Title||Using discrete choice modeling to generate resource selection functions for female polar bears in the Beaufort Sea|
|Authors||George M. Durner, Steven C. Amstrup, Ryan M. Nielson, Trent McDonald|
|Publication Type||Conference Paper|
|Publication Subtype||Conference Paper|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Alaska Science Center|