How Hot is too Hot for Polar Bears?


Campaign Complete. This project has ended on January 21, 2018. No more contributions can be made.

  • £1,576.00

    Pledged of £1,576.00 Goal

  • 26

    Backers

  • 0

    Hours to Go

All funds will be collected by January 21, 2018.

Share this campaign

Help raise awareness for this campaign by sharing this widget. Simply paste the following HTML code most places on the web.

Embed Code

<iframe src="https://crowd.science/campaigns/polar-bears-climate-change/?widget=1" width="260px" height="500px" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" /></iframe>

This campaign used flexible funding, therefore all funds are processed at the end of the campaign. We automatically reduce the goal to the amount we process at the end of the flexible campaigns as we class them as successfully funded projects. 

Polar bears are superbly adapted to live in a frigid environment of ice and snow but now climate change is causing the Arctic to warm at twice the rate of the rest of the planet.  The loss of sea ice habitat is the biggest threat to the survival of polar bears but there are additional challenges they must overcome as their habitat changes including dealing with very warm weather.  Have you ever wondered about how the well –insulated polar bears are going to avoid heat stress in their rapidly warming habitat?  Have you ever wondered how polar bears in zoos handle living in areas much warmer than the wild habitat their species evolved in?  We have wondered too.

Our work so far…

To investigate this we have partnered with zoos throughout North America to study thermoregulation in polar bears.  Thermoregulation is a fancy word encompassing the processes, both physiological and behavioural, a mammal undergoes to maintain its internal body temperature at ~37C.  You and I will shiver and put on more clothes when we are cold or sweat and dive into a lake when we are hot.

Polar bears are naturally adapted to withstand very cold temperatures but we know very little about how well they can handle hot temperatures.  Understanding what they need to do to avoid overheating is critical to determining the type of environment they can thrive in.  Our study has several components to it.  Rather than trying to use a thermometer to take the polar bears’ temperatures, which would be very dangerous to do, we are feeding our study bears iButtons in a meatball to provide minute-by-minute measurements of their internal temperature.  The iButtons stay inside the bear’s gut for ~36 hours and then the bears poop it out and we can collect the data.

This is an iButton. It is disguised in a meat ball, the polar bear eats it then poops it out 36 hours later. While it is inside the polar bear it monitors temperature. The poop samples are also used to measure stress hormones.

This is the first time anyone has continuously recorded the internal temperatures of polar bears while they go about their daily business.  We also collect poop samples every day from all of our 24 polar bears so we can measure stress hormones to determine if they are stressed by hot weather.  Working with all this poop may seem a bit gross and smelly, and it is, but it means we can get information about the physiology of the bears without having to bother them.

We are obtaining the data non-invasively.   In addition to this physiological data we also take thermal (infrared) images of our bears so we can pinpoint how and where they are trying to lose excess heat.  And finally, we are video recording our bears while they have the iButton inside of them so we can see exactly what they do when their internal temperature starts to increase in response to hot weather.  When all of this data is analyzed we will have an excellent picture of how polar bears handle increasing temperatures and what we can do to ensure they have what they need to stay cool.

Thermal (infrared) images of our polar bears pinpoint how and where they are trying to lose excess heat

To complete the project…

We have a team of undergraduate volunteers that are helping our graduate students with the analyses of the iButton data, the thermal images and video recordings of the behaviours.  To finish this project we need funding to pay for the chemicals and supplies needed for the graduate students to analyze the stress hormones.  We have collected more than 8,000 poop samples from the 24 polar bears in our study and are looking for $8000 US to finish the hormone analyses.

This is Emily, dragging polar bear poop for the experiment.

Our team

Dr. Laura Graham

Laura is the principal investigator on this project.  She is the founder and director of the non-profit WRG Conservation Foundation (wrgconservation.org) whose mission is to facilitate wildlife conservation through research and education.  She is also an adjunct professor at the University of Guelph.  She has more than 25 years of experience doing research on the physiology of a wide range of wildlife species including the critically endangered Vancouver Island marmot, otters, big cats, elephants and polar bears to name just a few.  She is a pioneer in the development of non-invasive hormone monitoring for wildlife species and has been an important player in the application of these techniques for wildlife management both in zoos and in the wild.

Dr Esther Finegan

Esther is an expert in using thermal imaging to study the physiology and thermoregulation in a variety of wildlife species.  She is an adjunct professor at the University of Guelph.

Emily Leishman

This is Emily, dragging polar bear poop for the experiment.

Hi everyone, thank you for your interest in the research going on in our lab! I am in the first year of my Masters degree at the University of Guelph and my research interest is heat stress physiology. My current research is focused on the effect of environmental temperature on stress levels of polar bears. I hope to use this data to determine the future state of polar bears with impending climate change in their natural habitat. I also want to apply my study to optimizing the welfare of polar bears kept in captivity. I would like to determine temperatures which elicit a stress response and behavioural strategies that need to be provided for to maintain good welfare in captivity.

Marguerite Mainprize

I completed my honours bachelors of science at the University of Guelph, majoring in animal biology. I have always been very passionate about all animal species, which led me to pursue a masters in animal biosciences specifically in animal welfare and behaviour. I started out in Dr. Laura Graham’s lab as an undergrad crushing fecal samples and am now one of her graduate students. This Polar Bear project introduced me to the field of research and all the interesting questions scientists can solve. Through being a part of this project I had the opportunity to go to Quebec. While there I watched these magnificent creatures in person and that cemented the role I want to have in ensuring their survival. I hope to continue learning and being a part of research that furthers our knowledge about animals as well as aids in conservation efforts.

To thank you for your support

All backers will receive a report as we want to spread the word of what we do!

Help us fund our polar bear study and we will send you an illustrated report of the findings when the research has been completed as well as the published papers.  Any pledges received before December 22 2017 will receive an e-mail with set of polar bear Holiday greeting cards that can be printed out and given to family and friends.   The following are what we are prepared to offer our donors but if you just want to donate without a reward that is an option as well, we will contact you at the end of the campaign to find out if you would like us to send the reward.

Pledge £10

Thank you so much for your support. We will send you updates about the progress of our research and a thank you card with a picture of one of the polar bears in our study on it.

Pledge £20

Thank you so much for supporting our research. We will send you a set of stickers featuring polar bears in our study that you can put on your tablet or computer or wherever you want.

Pledge £50

Thank you so much for considering pledging at this level. In addition to the above we will send you a mug featuring polar bears in our study and the corresponding infrared picture which will ‘magically’ appear when the mug heats up. This mug will be exclusive to backers of £50 upwards.

Front of mug when cold

Back of mug, appears when hot

Pledge £100

Thank you so much for considering pledging at this level. In addition to all of the above we will send you a tote bag featuring polar bears in our study exclusive to backers who pledge £100 and upwards.

Pledge £250

Thank you so much for considering pledging at this level. In addition to all of the above we will send you a t-shirt featuring polar bears in our study exclusive to backers who pledge £250 and upwards.

Pledge £500

Thank you so much for considering pledging at this level. To thank you we will send you the stickers, a tote bag, 2 t-shirts as well as a set of 4 mugs, all featuring pictures of the wonderful polar bears in our study.  We will also send you a video montage of some of the funniest moments we have recorded of our study bears with a special thank you message to appreciate your support.

Pledge £1000 or more

In addition to the above we will provide for 2 adults admission to the Toronto zoo, accommodations for a 1 night stay in the picturesque northern town of Cochrane and a behind the scenes tour of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat.  If donors are not in Ontario we will try and arrange similar polar bear viewing opportunities closer to home if possible.  Finally, if they wish, all donors of £1000 or more will be acknowledged publicly on the WRG Conservation webpage, facebook page, twitter and instagram accounts as well in the acknowledgements section of the published papers. We will also arrange a special thank you call with you where you can ask us more about polar bears and our research. We have lots of fun facts we can share.

Select your pledge amount

£

CONTINUE
  • 2 Backers

    Help us fund our polar bear study and we will send you an illustrated report of the findings when the research has been completed as well as the published papers. Any pledges received before December 22 2017 will receive an e-mail with set of polar bear Holiday greeting cards that can be printed out and given to family and friends. The following are what we are prepared to offer our donors but if you just want to donate without a reward that is an option as well. Note, to claim rewards we will contact you at the end of the fundraising campaign for details of where to send items to. At this stage you can waver the reward if you would like all funds to go to the research instead. (approx 5CAD)

  • 1 Backer

    Thank you so much for your support. We will send you updates about the progress of our research and a thank you card with a picture of one of the polar bears in our study on it. (approx 17CAD)

  • 8 Backers

    We will send you a set of stickers featuring polar bears in our study that you can put on your tablet or computer or wherever you want. (approx 34CAD)

  • 11 Backers

    In addition to the above we will send you a mug featuring polar bears in our study and the corresponding infrared picture which will ‘magically’ appear when the mug heats up. (approx 85CAD)

  • 1 Backer

    In addition to all of the above we will send you a tote bag featuring polar bears in our study. (approx 170CAD)

  • 3 Backers

    In addition to all of the above we will send you a t-shirt featuring polar bears in our study. (approx 427CAD)

  • Backers

    We will send you stickers, a tote bag, 2 t-shirts as well as a set of 4 mugs, all featuring pictures of the polar bears in our study. We will also send you a video montage of some of the funniest moments we have recorded of our study bears. (approx 854CAD)

  • Backers

    In addition to the above we will provide for 2 adults admission to the Toronto zoo, accommodations for a 1 night stay in the picturesque northern town of Cochrane and a behind the scenes tour of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. If donors are not in Ontario we will try and arrange similar polar bear viewing opportunities closer to home if possible. Finally, if they wish, all donors of £1000 or more will be acknowledged publicly on the WRG Conservation webpage, facebook page, twitter and instagram accounts as well in the acknowledgements section of the published papers. (approx 1708CAD)

Leave a Reply

  1. Anonymous
    £3.00
  2. Anonymous
    £50.00
  3. Anonymous
    £50.00
  4. Anonymous
    £250.00
  5. Carmen Stewart
    £50.00
  6. Anonymous
    £250.00
  7. Kristen Liesemer
    £50.00
  8. Andrea Stewart
    £10.00
  9. Jenny Richardson
    £250.00
  10. Kiana Hylton
    £20.00
  11. Tracey Northam
    £50.00
  12. Anonymous
    £20.00
  13. Chris Jull
    £50.00
  14. Anonymous
    £50.00
  15. Antonia Scopelliti
    £3.00
  16. Eric Hawrylyshyn
    £20.00
  17. Judith Knight
    £20.00
  18. Anonymous
    £50.00
  19. Karyn Sanders
    £100.00
  20. Nancy Palarchio
    £20.00
  21. Claire Edwards
    £20.00
  22. Shirley Broughton
    £20.00
  23. nina miles
    £50.00
  24. Bronwyn Tulloch
    £50.00
  25. Robert Veinott
    £20.00
  26. alessia
    £50.00

Terms of Agreement

Member usage

Definitions

Crowd.Science’s Service

Crowd.Science has limited liability

How Campaigns Work

Campaign Owner and Campaign Funder Obligation

Campaign Rewards

Fees Payable to Crowd.Science

Stripe Payment Gateway

Refunds

Communications with Crowd.Science

Tax and legal compliance

Dispute Resolution

Governing Law and Jurisdiction

Third Party Site

Prohibited Use Of Crowd.Science

General Overview

This Campaign has ended. No more pledges can be made.

  • 2 Backers

    Help us fund our polar bear study and we will send you an illustrated report of the findings when the research has been completed as well as the published papers. Any pledges received before December 22 2017 will receive an e-mail with set of polar bear Holiday greeting cards that can be printed out and given to family and friends. The following are what we are prepared to offer our donors but if you just want to donate without a reward that is an option as well. Note, to claim rewards we will contact you at the end of the fundraising campaign for details of where to send items to. At this stage you can waver the reward if you would like all funds to go to the research instead. (approx 5CAD)

  • 1 Backer

    Thank you so much for your support. We will send you updates about the progress of our research and a thank you card with a picture of one of the polar bears in our study on it. (approx 17CAD)

  • 8 Backers

    We will send you a set of stickers featuring polar bears in our study that you can put on your tablet or computer or wherever you want. (approx 34CAD)

  • 11 Backers

    In addition to the above we will send you a mug featuring polar bears in our study and the corresponding infrared picture which will ‘magically’ appear when the mug heats up. (approx 85CAD)

  • 1 Backer

    In addition to all of the above we will send you a tote bag featuring polar bears in our study. (approx 170CAD)

  • 3 Backers

    In addition to all of the above we will send you a t-shirt featuring polar bears in our study. (approx 427CAD)

  • Backers

    We will send you stickers, a tote bag, 2 t-shirts as well as a set of 4 mugs, all featuring pictures of the polar bears in our study. We will also send you a video montage of some of the funniest moments we have recorded of our study bears. (approx 854CAD)

  • Backers

    In addition to the above we will provide for 2 adults admission to the Toronto zoo, accommodations for a 1 night stay in the picturesque northern town of Cochrane and a behind the scenes tour of the Cochrane Polar Bear Habitat. If donors are not in Ontario we will try and arrange similar polar bear viewing opportunities closer to home if possible. Finally, if they wish, all donors of £1000 or more will be acknowledged publicly on the WRG Conservation webpage, facebook page, twitter and instagram accounts as well in the acknowledgements section of the published papers. (approx 1708CAD)