Home ranges in moving habitats: polar bears and sea ice
Home range size estimates are often used to assess the amount of space required for animals to perform the activities essential for their survival and reproduction. However, in moving environments, traditional home range estimates may be ill suited to this task. In particular, traditional home range estimates are inaccurate representations of the space required by polar bears Ursus maritimus. The sea ice is the prime foraging platform of polar bears, and estimating the amount of ice encountered
... of ice encountered by bears may provide a better approximation of space use. We develop a technique to make these estimates. Our results confirm that polar bears use more space than terrestrial carnivores to find the resources and conditions they require. We also show that the traditional geographic home range can underestimate both the movement of bears and the amount of space encountered. Moreover, area of ice encountered increased with ice drift, indicating that bears living on highly mobile ice might be exposed to higher energetic costs, and potentially larger energetic gains, than bears inhabiting more stable ice. The methods and concepts presented here can serve as a foundation for new approaches to study the space use of the many species living in moving environments.