No animal is more symbolic of the Arctic than the polar bear. In the short space of 150,000 years, it has evolved from a grizzly bear into the most specialized predator of the arctic sea ice. Through behavioral, morphological, and physiological changes in a remarkably short period of time, the polar bear has become totally adapted to living comfortably in one of the harshest environments on the planet. Yet, the very survival of this unique mammal is now threatened by global climate warming.
Dr. Ian Stirling, the best known polar bear scientist in the world, compresses the major new discoveries of the last 40 years of research on this iconic Arctic mammal into a major new, easily readable, and scientifically comprehensive book about the ecology and natural history of polar bears. In an accessible non-technical style, he explains how polar bears evolved, how researchers study them, aspects of their behavior, how they prey and live on various marine mammals for their very survival, how the seals and bears have evolved in response to each other, and how, specifically, they have come to threatened by climate warming. In a separate chapter, he explains why the polar bears in Hudson Bay have become so important to our understanding of the species, how Churchill became "The Polar Bear Capital of the World".
Despite the deep concerns about climate warming, there is hope. Ecotourism in several areas, such as Svalbard, Hudson Bay, and the Canadian High Arctic is helping to develop a world-wide constituency of people who care about polar bears and the Arctic. The influence of this constituency is vitally important because there is still time for the world to reduce the rate of climate warming, but only if we make significant reductions in greenhouse gases soon. Maps, tables and graphs throughout the book illustrate the distribution of polar bears, where they originated, the status of populations, critical differences in ice conditions and how they impact the survival different populations of bears, and many other technical aspects made simple. The details of their ecology, behavior, hunting, and habitat us, described in detail in the text are illustrated with the most diverse and extensive collection of spectacular photographs of polar bears ever assembled in a single book. Some of the finest photos from several of the world's most experienced polar bear photographers, including Stefan Lundberg, Norbert Rosing, Mats Forsberg, Stefan Lundgren, Sue Flood, Doug Allen, and Jenny Ross, combine with the text make this book an incomparable treasure of understanding of this amazing mammal.