The polar bear, king of the Arctic, is one of the world's most recognizable animals. Images of the majestic beasts roaming across the ice cap, plunging into frigid waters, and playing with furry cubs have come to symbolize the beauty and grandeur of the Arctic. Andrew E. Derocher and Wayne Lynch have spent decades following the bears, and this book offers the most comprehensive and readable review of their biology, ecology, behavior, and conservation.
With gripping photographs by Lynch, a preeminent wildlife photographer, and the personal stories of Derocher, this book is as stunning to look at as it is fascinating to read. It weaves together their remarkable experiences with the latest research to tell the amazing story of these Arctic predators, tracing the animals back to their evolutionary roots and looking ahead to the future of polar bears on a warming planet Earth.
Through informative and engaging language, Derocher carefully explains the sea ice ecosystem that is essential to the survival of polar bears. He addresses the threat of global warming to the Arctic--home to polar bears for tens of thousands of years--and describes in impressive detail their feeding habits, distribution, den ecology, and reproduction. Lynch's vivid photographs capture all this and more as they chronicle the wide range of polar bear behavior, from family rituals to ferocious predatory practices. Captivating, accurate, and inspiring, "Polar Bears" belongs in the hands of all who love the wild.
1. Introduction 1
2. A Polar Bear Described 7
3. Evolution 33
4. Early Polar Bear-Human Interactions 45
5. Arctic Marine Ecosystems 51
6. Sea Ice and Habitat 55
7. Prey 69
8. Distribution and Populations 95
9. Hunting Methods 125
10. Polar Bear Behaviour 137
11. Den Ecology 155
12. From Birth to Death 171
13. Threats 199
14. Looking Forward 225
Appendix A: Scientific Names of Plants and Animals 229
Appendix B: Species of Plants and Animals Eaten by Polar Bears 231
Andrew E. Derocher, a leading polar bear researcher, is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the University of Alberta and author of numerous articles on large Arctic mammals.
Wayne Lynch is a freelance science writer and wildlife photographer and a fellow of the prestigious Explorers Club. Among his many publications is Owls of the United States and Canada: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behavior, also published by Johns Hopkins.
"Captivating, accurate, and inspiring, Polar Bears belongs in the hands of all who love the wild."
"Derocher and Lynch's handiwork, however, is less a lament and more a celebration of polar bears. And that will almost certainly make it a winner with increasingly fussy readers looking to be awed, inspired, and informed by artfully illustrated books."
– Ed Struzik, Edmonton Journal