Global warming, Predator–prey, Sea ice, Seabird, Ursus
Contemporary climate change is predicted to expose some species to altered predation regimes. Losses of Arctic sea ice are causing polar bears to increasingly forage on colonial seaduck eggs in lieu of ice-based hunting of marine mammals. Although polar bear predation of bird eggs has now been widely documented, it is unclear whether this change in predator behavior is having population-level consequences for Arctic breeding birds. In this study, we tested whether changes in the number of common eider nests on 76 islands in Hudson Strait, Canada, were related to variation in polar bear presence. We found that polar bear sign detected during eider breeding surveys was strongly correlated with spatial patterns of polar bears observed during aerial surveys. However, changes in eider nest count did not appear to be clearly related to polar bear sign at either the island scale or the island-cluster scale. This results of this study, therefore, suggest that the spatial overlap between eiders and polar bears varies across the landscape, but patterns of polar bear spatial variation do not seem to have driven large-scale redistribution of nesting common eiders.
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Dey, Cody J.; Semeniuk, Christina A.D.; Iverson, Samuel A.; and Grant Gilchrist, H.. (2020). Changes in the distribution of nesting Arctic seaducks are not strongly related to variation in polar bear presence. Arctic Science, 6 (2), 114-123.