Tag Archives: status tables

Archive of IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group status and meeting reports back to 1965

The IUCN/SCC Polar Bear Specialist Group have recently modernized their website, which apparently required them to remove all meeting reports and status documents going back to 1968. Since I had downloaded all of them for my own research, I have archived them here for anyone wishing to assess the accuracy of statements made by PGSG members about what they did or said in the past, or to understand the history of the organization. I did something similar a few years ago regarding the administrative reports used in 2007 to support the decision to list polar bears as ‘threatened’ under the US Endangered Species Act (ESA), which disappeared from the US Geological Survey website: they can now be found here.

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Graphing polar bear population estimates over time

I’ve already commented on the 2013 update of polar bear population status released by the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group (PBSG).

However, I thought it might be interesting to graph the changes in global population estimates over time (from 1981-2013) — not just the actual estimates from PBSG status tables (with their min/max error ranges) but those totals plus the so-called “inaccurate” estimates that the PBSG have dropped from their accounts in recent (2005-2013) assessments: Chukchi Sea, East Greenland, Queen Elizabeth Islands (now known as the “Arctic Basin”), and Laptev Sea.

In 2001, those “inaccurate” estimates contributed 5,000-5,400 bears to the global total, but now they’re gone — no bears from those regions contribute to the official totals listed on recent PBSG status tables.

Adding those dropped estimates back into the global totals makes it possible to generate a graph in which the global estimates are truly comparable over time.

To see how the dropped estimates influenced the perception of population change over time, I’ve also graphed the estimates given by the PBSG in their status tables. I’ve combined the two into one image (Fig. 1, click to enlarge) to make comparison easy.

UPDATE 5 December 2014: Links to more recent posts relevant to this issue added below. The most recent numbers, added 31 May 2015, are here.

UPDATE 26 March 2019: See “Latest global polar bear abundance ‘best guess’ estimate is 39,000 (26,000-58,000)
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