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Tartu, S., Aars, J., Andersen, M., Polder, A., Bourgeon, S., Merkel, B., Lowther, A., Bytingsvik, J., Welker, J., Derocher, A., Jenssen, B., Routti, H. (2018) Choose Your Poison—Space-Use Strategy Influences Pollutant Exposure in Barents Sea Polar Bears. Environmental Science and Technology, 52 (5), 3211-3221. doi:10.1021/acs.est.7b06137

Choose your poison : space-use strategy influences pollutant exposure in barents sea polar bears

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Author: Tartu, Sabrina1; Aars, Jon1; Andersen, Magnus1;
Organizations: 1Norwegian Polar Institute, Fram Centre, Tromsø NO-9296, Norway
2Norwegian University of Life Science, Campus Adamstua, Oslo NO-1432, Norway
3UiT − The Arctic University of Norway, Department of Arctic and Marine Biology, Tromsø NO-9010, Norway
4Akvaplan-niva, Fram Centre, Tromsø NO-9296, Norway
5Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alaska - Anchorage, Anchorage, Alaska 99508, United States
6Department of Arctic Technology, University Center in Svalbard, Longyearbyen, Svalbard NO-9171, Norway
7Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton T6G 2R3, Canada
8Department of Biology, Norwegian University of Science and Technology, Trondheim NO-7491, Norway
Format: article
Version: accepted version
Access: open
Online Access: PDF Full Text (PDF, 6.7 MB)
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Language: English
Published: American Chemical Society, 2018
Publish Date: 2019-01-24


Variation in space-use is common within mammal populations. In polar bears, Ursus maritimus, some individuals follow the sea ice (offshore bears) whereas others remain nearshore yearlong (coastal bears). We studied pollutant exposure in relation to space-use patterns (offshore vs coastal) in adult female polar bears from the Barents Sea equipped with satellite collars (2000–2014, n = 152). First, we examined the differences in home range (HR) size and position, body condition, and diet proxies (nitrogen and carbon stable isotopes, n = 116) between offshore and coastal space-use. Second, we investigated how HR, space-use, body condition, and diet were related to plasma concentrations of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), organochlorine pesticides (OCPs) (n = 113), perfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs; n = 92), and hydroxylated-PCBs (n = 109). Offshore females were in better condition and had a more specialized diet than did coastal females. PCBs, OCPs, and hydroxylated-PCB concentrations were not related to space-use strategy, yet PCB concentrations increased with increasing latitude, and hydroxylated-PCB concentrations were positively related to HR size. PFAS concentrations were 30–35% higher in offshore bears compared to coastal bears and also increased eastward. On the basis of the results we conclude that space-use of Barents Sea female polar bears influences their pollutant exposure, in particular plasma concentrations of PFAS.

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Series: Environmental science & technology
ISSN: 0013-936X
ISSN-E: 1520-5851
ISSN-L: 0013-936X
Volume: 52
Issue: 5
Pages: 3211 - 3221
DOI: 10.1021/acs.est.7b06137
Type of Publication: A1 Journal article – refereed
Field of Science: 1172 Environmental sciences
1181 Ecology, evolutionary biology
Funding: This study was financed by The Norwegian Polar Institute and the Ministry of Climate and Environment. Additional support was received from the Norwegian Environment Agency and the Research Council of Norway (grant 216568 to H.R., and grant 175989 to B.M.J.).
Copyright information: This document is the Accepted Manuscript version of a Published Work that appeared in final form in Environmental Science and Technology, copyright © American Chemical Society after peer review and technical editing by the publisher. To access the final edited and published work see