Polar Biology

, Volume 26, Issue 8, pp 509–516 | Cite as

Movements of female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in the East Greenland pack ice

  • Øystein Wiig
  • Erik W. Born
  • Leif Toudal Pedersen
Original Paper


The movements of two adult female polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in East Greenland and the Greenland Sea area were studied by use of satellite telemetry between the fall of 1994 and the summer of 1998. One female was tracked for 621 days, the other for 1,415 days. During this time the females used maternity dens on land. If denning periods on land were excluded, the two females used between 73% and 100% of the tracking time offshore where they were able to navigate in the dynamic pack ice and counteract the fast southward movement of the ice (up to 30 km/h) in the East Greenland Current. Mean monthly movement rates varied between 0.32 and 0.76km/h. Both bears had very large home ranges (242,000 and 468,000 km2) within the dynamic pack ice of the Greenland Sea. The facts that the bears made extensive use of the offshore sea ice and that there is a marked reduction of the Greenland Sea ice call for a closer monitoring of the effects of this change on the East Greenland polar bear population.


Polar Bear Large Home Range Hooded Seal East Greenland Current Ursus Maritimus 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This study was financed by the Greenland Institute of Natural Resources (Nuuk) and The Norwegian Polar Institute (Tromsø). We wish to thank the staff of RV "Polarstern" (Alfred Wegener Institute, Bremerhaven) for the great help and hospitality that we received during the field work. Special thanks to the helicopter pilots Jürgen Büchner and Detlev Schreiber (Helicopter Service Wasserthal) for their highly competent flying. We are indebted to Dr. S. Amstrup (US Geological survey, Anchorage) and an anonymous reviewer who offered valuable comments on the original draft of this paper and to Dr Christina Lockyer (Age Dynamics, Lyngby) for correcting the English text.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Øystein Wiig
    • 1
    • 2
  • Erik W. Born
    • 3
  • Leif Toudal Pedersen
    • 4
  1. 1.Norwegian Polar InstituteTromsøNorway
  2. 2.Zoological Museum, Natural History Museums and Botanical GardenUniversity of OsloOsloNorway
  3. 3.Greenland Institute of Natural ResourcesNuukGreenland
  4. 4.Danish Center for Remote SensingTechnical University of DenmarkLyngbyDenmark

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