Evolutionary Biologist Shows Polar Bears Resilient to Climate Change

Published August 14, 2012

Professor Susan Crockford, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Victoria (Canada), reports that polar bears have successfully adapted to severe climate change many times in the past and will likely adapt to future climate change, as well. Crockford, who has been published many times in the peer-reviewed scientific literature, will be presenting the evidence for polar bear resilience tonight at a public lecture at the University of Toronto.

“We tend to hear nothing but alarming messages about the current status and future welfare of polar bears from animal advocates of all kinds, including lobby groups and activist scientists,” Crockford said yesterday in a press release. “Many of these tales of imminent doom, however, have important facts left out, glossed over or misrepresented – and much of the uncertainty in the underlying research has been downplayed.” 

“It is still not known for certain when Polar Bears evolved but there is no question that, in the many millennia they have existed as a separate species, they have survived very significant changes in climate,” Crockford explained. “Polar Bears successfully adapted to times when there was both much less, and much more, Arctic sea ice than exists today. Polar bears obviously have strategies for surviving dramatic changes in sea ice conditions – we just don’t know yet what all of them are.”

According to the press release, “Crockford is an expert on polar bear evolution with a focus on evolutionary biology and archaeozoology. She has many professional papers published in peer-reviewed academic journals and books. Her Ph.D. dissertation was entitled “Animal Domestication and Vertebrate Speciation: A Paradigm for the Origin of Species”. Professor Crockford works full-time identifying animal bones for Pacific Identifications Inc., and holds an adjunct faculty position at the University of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada, where she teaches a course for Anthropology students on animal domestication and speciation and advises on matters of paleozoology and archaeozoology. She has a new blog about Polar Bears, called Polar Bear Science http://polarbearscience.com.”