Polar Bears: A Natural History of a Threatened Species

Polar Bears: A Natural History of a Threatened Species

by Ian Stirling
     
 

No animal is more symbolic of the Arctic than the polar bear. In the short space of 150,000 years, it has evolved from a grizzly bear into the most specialized predator of the arctic sea ice. Through behavioral, morphological, and physiological changes in a remarkably short period of time, the polar bear has become totally adapted to living comfortably in one of the…  See more details below

Overview

No animal is more symbolic of the Arctic than the polar bear. In the short space of 150,000 years, it has evolved from a grizzly bear into the most specialized predator of the arctic sea ice. Through behavioral, morphological, and physiological changes in a remarkably short period of time, the polar bear has become totally adapted to living comfortably in one of the harshest environments on the planet. Yet, the very survival of this unique mammal is now threatened by global climate warming.

Dr. Ian Stirling, the best known polar bear scientist in the world, compresses the major new discoveries of the last 40 years of research on this iconic Arctic mammal into a major new, easily readable, and scientifically comprehensive book about the ecology and natural history of polar bears. In an accessible non-technical style, he explains how polar bears evolved, how researchers study them, aspects of their behavior, how they prey and live on various marine mammals for their very survival, how the seals and bears have evolved in response to each other, and how, specifically, they have come to threatened by climate warming. In a separate chapter, he explains why the polar bears in Hudson Bay have become so important to our understanding of the species, how Churchill became "The Polar Bear Capital of the World".

Despite the deep concerns about climate warming, there is hope. Ecotourism in several areas, such as Svalbard, Hudson Bay, and the Canadian High Arctic is helping to develop a world-wide constituency of people who care about polar bears and the Arctic. The influence of this constituency is vitally important because there is still time for the world to reduce the rate of climate warming, but only if we make significant reductions in greenhouse gases soon. Maps, tables and graphs throughout the book illustrate the distribution of polar bears, where they originated, the status of populations, critical differences in ice conditions and how they impact the survival different populations of bears, and many other technical aspects made simple. The details of their ecology, behavior, hunting, and habitat us, described in detail in the text are illustrated with the most diverse and extensive collection of spectacular photographs of polar bears ever assembled in a single book. Some of the finest photos from several of the world's most experienced polar bear photographers, including Norbert Rosing, Mats Forsberg, Stefan Lundgren, Sue Flood, Doug Allen, Daniel Cox, Per Michelsen, David Shaw, Philip Dalton, and Jenny Ross, combine with the text make this book an incomparable treasure of understanding of this amazing mammal.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"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.
"He shows us that the far North is not a barren and hostile environment, but unique and beautiful. 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."
-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.

"Ian Stirling's groundbreaking studies of polar bears laid much of the foundation for both current research on the species and our present day understanding of them. No one can now look at these highly intelligent, threatened creatures without worrying about a world that could cause their possible extinction - and wondering how we have allowed it to come to this point. We must take action. As this book clearly illustrates, their loss would be our loss as well."
-- Robert Buchanan, President/CEO, Polar Bears International

Library Journal
Stirling (scientist, emeritus, Canadian Wildlife Svc.; biology, Univ. of Alberta) has studied polar bears for over 40 years. In this highly readable natural history of the polar bear in a nontechnical reference format, he presents the basic facts about polar bears in response to the general public's heightened awareness of the species because of climate change. As polar bears rely on an ice-based environment, global warming is a serious threat to their existence. In this book, readers learn about polar bears' distribution, evolution, feeding habits, morphology, physiology, reproduction, conservation, behavior, and threats to their survival. Stirling draws extensively from his own research as well as from traditional knowledge from different groups of native peoples, such as the Inuits, who have interacted with polar bears for thousands of years. VERDICT Not just for mammalogists, this title will appeal to readers with an interest in arctic ecology or the effects of global warming.—Diana Hartle, Univ. of Georgia Lib., Athens

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781554551552
Publisher:
Fitzhenry & Whiteside, Limited
Publication date:
09/15/2011
Pages:
300
Sales rank:
798,564
Product dimensions:
8.00(w) x 10.00(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet 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 behavior, population ecology, and predator-prey relationships of polar bears for 40 years, longer than anyone else in the world.

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