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Research on Arctic marine mammals

The focus of this project is the collection of detailed empirical information throughout the Canadian Arctic marine ecosystems, using a variety of methods including both scientific and local knowledge. Research will incorporate community-based monitoring to collect samples and engage northerners in developing their scientific capacity.

The specific focus is on sampling of selected marine mammal species, including polar bears, which are dominant upper trophic-level consumers in the Arctic marine eco-system and key species for Inuit subsistence hunting culture. Several areas of mammal health will be studied, including diet, diseases, contaminants, and stress. Satellite tracking, tissue samples from local hunters, genetic and population modeling will be used to understand change.

This project will examine how global warming affects marine mammals in the Arctic and answer: Can marine mammals adapt to global warming – and what are the possibilities for future survival? What is the relation-ship between warming temperatures and the habitats of polar bears, seals, and whales? What are the potential effects of global warming on reproduction, and how many mammals will survive? What will be the effects of changes on northern communities and Inuit lifestyle? How can we reduce the effects of these changes and assist northern communities and species in an uncertain future?

Study site locations

Arctic Bay, Arviat, Churchill, Repulse Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Coral Harbour, Igloolik, Kugaaruk, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Sanikiluaq, Whale Cove.

Local collaborations

Partnerships include HTOs, local hunters and guides, and other com-munity members in, Arctic Bay, Arviat, Repulse Bay, Chesterfield Inlet, Igloolik, Kugaaruk, Pangnirtung, Pond Inlet, Sanikiluaq, Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. (NTI), the Igloolik Research Centre (Nunavut Research Institute), the Nunavut Wildlife Management Board (NWMB), ecotourism operators, Parks Canada, and Government of Nunavut Conservation Officers (CO).

Project contact information:

Steven Ferguson

Research Scientist, Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Institute, Winnipeg MB; Adjunct Professor with Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Environment and Geography, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg MB

Andrew Derocher

Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB

Mike Hammill

Research Scientist, Department of Fisheries & Oceans Canada, Institut Maurice-Lamontagne, Mont-Joli QC; Adjunct Professor at Université du Québec à Rimouski, Rimouski QC

Cory Matthews

PhD student at Department of Biological Sciences, University of Manitoba, Winnipeg, MB