[UW Today] UW’s Kristin Laidre awarded Pew marine fellowship to study effects of climate change, subsistence hunting on polar bears

from UW Today, February 22, 2017. Note: Applied Physics Laboratory Oceanographer Kristin Laidre is the teacher for FISH 464: Arctic Marine Vertebrate Ecology. This course is offered in winter of ‘odd years’, and can be applied to the requirements of the marine biology minor.

Kristin Laidre is seen with two polar bear cubs.

A new, two-part University of Washington project aims to explore the interacting effects of climate change and subsistence hunting on polar bears, while also illuminating the cultural value of the species to indigenous peoples and the role they play in conservation. Led by Kristin Laidre, a marine biologist at the UW’s Polar Science Center and the School of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences, the three-year project will include a public art-science exhibition that combines photography, storytelling and science focused on polar bears, climate change and local Inuit communities in Greenland.

“Broadly, people know polar bears are negatively affected by loss of sea ice, so they are understandably upset to hear polar bears are also being hunted,” Laidre said. “The reality is, the reason for the projected decline of polar bears is a much bigger, global problem related to human-caused climate change and is largely unrelated to harvest. Managing and conserving polar bears in a changing climate has to include working closely with local Arctic communities and respecting subsistence needs.”

Laidre’s project is funded by The Pew Charitable Trusts, which today awarded her and 10 other international researchers prestigious fellowships for marine conservation. Pew chooses fellows based on their past contributions to marine science and their projects’ potential to protect ocean environments.

[read the full story at UW Today]