Pollutants in polar bears in the joint Norwegian Russian population
Based on satellite telemetry data, we know that the Barents Sea polar bears have distinct movement patterns. So called “pelagic bears” follow the ice towards the Russian part of the Barents Sea, whereas “coastal” bears stay on land at Svalbard. A large polar bear survey conducted in 2015 suggests that a majority of the polar bears at the Norwegian Arctic is pelagic. However, yearly long-term monitoring program, run by the Norwegian Polar Institute, indicates that we have little knowledge on the pelagic polar bears compared to the coastal ones. Previous studies conducted in polar bears sampled in 1990s suggest the polar bears from the eastern Barents Sea are more polluted than those from western Barents Sea. Various reasons have been suggested for this spatial variation in pollutant levels: differences in body condition, food web, need of energy (pelagic bears walk more, eat more and thus intake of pollutants is higher) as well as local pollution sources. In this project we will give a current status of contaminant exposure in polar bears using eastern vs. western areas of the Barents Sea by analyzing a wide range of legacy and emerging compounds. Furthermore, we study what causes the differences in pollutant concentrations in polar bears using the eastern vs. western parts of the Barents Sea: body condition, differences in food web structure or energy needs.