Tricia L. Fry

Tricia L. Fry (Ph.D.)
University of Wisconsin – Madison
Major Advisor: Tony L. Goldberg, Ph.D., DVM

Evaluating Polar Bear Health in a Changing Climate

Wildlife health is more than simply an absence of disease, but is instead a condition based on ecological, social, and biological influences that impact individuals and populations. As temperatures in the Arctic continue to increase, polar bears are becoming increasingly vulnerable to the effects of climate change resulting from the loss of sea ice, which results in changes in behavior and nutrition, thus introducing polar bears to novel risks. My research explores how physiologic health of polar bears has changed over the last 35 years in the southern Beaufort Sea polar bear subpopulation. We have calculated reference intervals for 13 blood-based biomarkers to aid in monitoring the health of the polar bears. We are also assessing how these analytes vary based on dynamic environmental, behavioral, and demographic conditions. In addition to reporting changes in physiologic health, our research aims to challenge the current disease driven paradigm of wildlife health by using cumulative, multifactor models of health to not only benefit polar bear conservation but to better understand the wildlife health.

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