Polar bears from space

Jul 09, 2014
polar bear

Polar bear population estimates based on satellite images are similar to aerial estimates, according to a study published July 9, 2014 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Seth Stapleton from United States Geological Survey and colleagues.

The potentially severe impacts of climate change in the Arctic may threaten regional wildlife. Scientists trying to develop efficient and effective wildlife monitoring techniques to track Arctic populations face great challenges, including the remoteness and associated logistical constraints of accessing wildlife. In this study, scientists evaluated high-resolution to track the distribution and abundance of on a small island in northern Canada in an attempt to develop a tool to monitor these difficult to reach populations. Specifically, the authors examined of the island with a high density of bears, during the ice-free summer and compared the images to aerial and ground surveys collected on different dates.

The estimate of ~90 bears based on satellite imagery was similar to an abundance estimate of ~100 bears made from an aerial survey conducted a few days earlier. These findings support satellite imagery as a tool for monitoring polar bears on land, which could potentially be applied to other Arctic wildlife. The authors suggest that further automated detection developments and testing in different landscapes may provide information about benefits for large-scale application of the technology.

Explore further: Den conditions reveal status of polar bears as they face decreasing ice

More information: Stapleton S, LaRue M, Lecomte N, Atkinson S, Garshelis D, et al. (2014) Polar Bears from Space: Assessing Satellite Imagery as a Tool to Track Arctic Wildlife. PLoS ONE 9(7): e101513. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0101513

Related Stories

For polar bears, it's survival of the fattest

Mar 19, 2013

One of the most southerly populations of polar bears in the world – and the best studied – is struggling to cope with climate-induced changes to sea ice, new research reveals. Based on over 10 years' ...

Recommended for you

Keeping hungry jumbos at bay

7 hours ago

Until now electric fences and trenches have proved to be the most effective way of protecting farms and villages from night time raids by hungry elephants. But researchers think they may have come up with ...

Rare south-west fish suffers further decline

12 hours ago

Researchers have discovered that the range of one of Western Australia's rarest freshwater fishes, Balston's Pygmy Perch, could have declined by as much as 25 per cent.

Zoologists tap into GPS to track badger movements

13 hours ago

Zoologists from Trinity College Dublin's School of Natural Sciences are using GPS tracking technology to keep a 'Big Brother' eye on badgers in County Wicklow. By better understanding the badgers' movements and the reasons ...

Climate change costing soybean farmers

Mar 30, 2015

Even during a good year, soybean farmers nationwide are, in essence, taking a loss. That's because changes in weather patterns have been eating into their profits and taking quite a bite: $11 billion over ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.