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Karyn Rode, Ph.D.

As a Research Wildlife Biologist, I conduct studies focused on the ecology, physiology, and behavior of large mammals to understand their response to environmental change, identify what environmental or ecological factors (e.g., prey availability, winter temperature, ice availability, etc.) most influence whether a population increases, decreases, or is stable, and to maintain positive wildlife-human interactions.

I work with international and bilateral groups, such as the Polar Bear Range States and US-Russia Polar Bear Commission, DOI partners, including U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, and the U.S. National Park Service, Alaska Native co-management groups, and local and state governments to identify and address research needs for polar bears and walruses.  My research focuses primarily on identifying biological and ecological indicators for monitoring large mammal populations and ecosystem change and determining mechanisms of population regulation in response to environmental change.  I also study wildlife interactions with humans in areas of industry, via tourism and recreation, and in local communities to help minimize or avoid negative effects on wildlife and ensure human safety.  Much of my work is centered on nutritional and physiological ecology and its effects on wildlife body condition, reproduction, and survival. Often, I work to develop new methods needed to address information needs.  Although all research questions pertain to wild populations, I also regularly conduct studies with animals in zoos and other captive settings where more detailed study of animal physiology and development of new research techniques are possible.

Professional Experience

  • Mar 2012 - Present              Research Wildlife Biologist, USGS Alaska Science Center

  • Oct 2006 - Feb 2012            Wildlife Biologist, US Fish and Wildlife Service Polar Bear Program, Anchorage, Alaska

  • Jan 2006 - Oct 2006            Research Associate, Cornell University, Forest Elephant program

  • June 2002 - Dec 2005         Contract wildlife biologist - Alaska Department of Fish and Game/PhD candidate - Washington State  University

Education and Certifications

  • Ph.D.    Washington State University       Zoology

  • M.S.      Washington State University       Zoology

  • B.S.       Colorado State University            Wildlife Biology

Affiliations and Memberships*

  • 2020 - present         Vice President- Americas, International Association of Bear Research and Management

  • 2017 - present         International Association of Bear Research and Management Grants Review Committee

  • 2017 - present         Member of the American Zoological Association’s Polar Bear Research Council

  • 2015 - present         Member of Science/TEK working group of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Polar Bear Recovery Team

  • 2009 - 2010            Secretary/Treasurer of the Alaska chapter of the Wildlife Society

  • 2008 - present        Member of the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Polar bear specialist group

  • 2007 - present        Member of the Scientific/TEK working group under the US-Russia polar bear commission

Science and Products

*Disclaimer: Listing outside positions with professional scientific organizations on this Staff Profile are for informational purposes only and do not constitute an endorsement of those professional scientific organizations or their activities by the USGS, Department of the Interior, or U.S. Government