Satellites can help monitor and track polar bears

Written by: Lisa Stelzner

Primary Source: Daily Dose of Science Blog

Polar bears in the Arctic have been losing the sea ice they use as part of their habitat in recent years due to warming, and because of the inaccessible, remote landscape, scientists have had difficulty monitoring their populations.  Biologists found that they could actually identify 92 polar bears from satellite images in Nunavut, Canada.  Satellite images do not have as high of resolution as aerial surveys done from airplanes, but aerial surveys are very expensive and hard to do in remote places.  Satellite images could have an advantage in these cases.

Aerial surveys of the same area found 77 polar bears, so scientists now know that satellite numbers can be comparable.

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Lisa Stelzner
I'm a plant biology PhD student studying monarch butterflies in Michigan, but I'm interested in lots of other types of science, too. I am interested in how breeding monarch butterflies choose their habitat based on floral species richness and abundance. Few studies have been conducted on optimal foraging theory when it involves an organism searching for two different kinds of resources, and butterflies are an ideal study system to investigate this, since many species are ovipositing specialists and only lay eggs on one species of hostplant, but are feeding generalists and nectar from a broad variety of flowering forbs.