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Conserv Biol. 2015 Jun;29(3):724-37. doi: 10.1111/cobi.12474. Epub 2015 Mar 17.

Arctic marine mammal population status, sea ice habitat loss, and conservation recommendations for the 21st century.

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Polar Science Center, Applied Physics Laboratory, 1013 NE 40th Street, University of Washington, Seattle, WA, 98105, U.S.A.
Greenland Institute of Natural Resources, P.O. Box 570, 3900, Nuuk, Greenland.
Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, N-9296, Tromsø, Norway.
School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, University of Alaska, 73-4388, Paiaha Street, Kailua Kona, HI 96740, U.S.A.
National Marine Fisheries Service, National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration, 7600 Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA, 98115, U.S.A.
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 1011 East Tudor Road, Anchorage, AK, 99503, U.S.A.
Fisheries and Oceans Canada, Freshwater Institute, 501 University Crescent, Winnipeg, MB, R3T 2N6, Canada.
Natural History Museum, University of Oslo, P.O. Box 1172, Blindern, N-0318, Oslo, Norway.
National Marine Mammal Laboratory, Alaska Fisheries Science Center, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, 7600, Sand Point Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115, U.S.A.
ChukotTINRO, P.O. Box 29, Str. Otke, 56, Anadyr, Chukotka, 689000, Russia.
Alaska Department of Fish and Game, 1300 College Road, Fairbanks, AK, 99701, U.S.A.


Arctic marine mammals (AMMs) are icons of climate change, largely because of their close association with sea ice. However, neither a circumpolar assessment of AMM status nor a standardized metric of sea ice habitat change is available. We summarized available data on abundance and trend for each AMM species and recognized subpopulation. We also examined species diversity, the extent of human use, and temporal trends in sea ice habitat for 12 regions of the Arctic by calculating the dates of spring sea ice retreat and fall sea ice advance from satellite data (1979-2013). Estimates of AMM abundance varied greatly in quality, and few studies were long enough for trend analysis. Of the AMM subpopulations, 78% (61 of 78) are legally harvested for subsistence purposes. Changes in sea ice phenology have been profound. In all regions except the Bering Sea, the duration of the summer (i.e., reduced ice) period increased by 5-10 weeks and by >20 weeks in the Barents Sea between 1979 and 2013. In light of generally poor data, the importance of human use, and forecasted environmental changes in the 21st century, we recommend the following for effective AMM conservation: maintain and improve comanagement by local, federal, and international partners; recognize spatial and temporal variability in AMM subpopulation response to climate change; implement monitoring programs with clear goals; mitigate cumulative impacts of increased human activity; and recognize the limits of current protected species legislation.


cambio climático; caza para la subsistencia; circumpolar assessment; climate change; evaluación circumpolar; management; manejo; subsistence harvest

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