Poster Profile – Alyssa Bohart, MSc.

In lieu of the poster session at our 2020 conference, we are profiling posters from this year’s conference on our website every few weeks. This week’s focus is on polar bear migratory habits in Hudson Bay.

Poster authors: Alyssa M. Bohart, Nicholas J. Lunn, Andrew E. Derocher, David McGeachy

Poster title: Migration Dynamics of Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) in Western Hudson Bay (view a pdf of the poster here).

Polar bears in Hudson Bay migrate each year from their terrestrial summer habitat to their winter habitat on the sea ice, which provides critical access to prey and mates. The patterns and timing of this migration are expected to change with climate change. Alyssa’s research aimed to determine biological and environmental influences on migration and assess how they were changing over time. The top models only contained environmental covariates, suggesting they influence migration patterns the most. Even though migration patterns did not change over the study period, Alyssa hypothesizes this may be because the time frame of her study was too short.

Sea ice is intrinsic to polar bear survival and behaviour. This research reiterates how essential sea ice is to polar bear biology. Future research could use her research as a baseline and compare migratory patterns and sea ice over longer time frames. In the Arctic, Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) is foundational for management planning. This study complements TEK because Inuit have also noticed changes in the sea ice, which is becoming less stable and predictable. The changes in sea ice impact all arctic inhabitants from Inuit to polar bears. These changes can impact the dynamic relationships across the entire food chain.

Alyssa’s poster showcases her skills as a wildlife biologist and communicator. She designed the great infographics herself and is open to contract work. Contact her to talk about her research or if you need help creating some great visuals to communicate your research. Alyssa is looking forward to furthering her career in wildlife management and research while integrating her skills as a communicator and educator.

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