University of Alberta

Dr. Ian Stirling

Retired (2007):
Research Scientist Emeritus, Wildlife Research Division
Science and Technology Branch, Environment Edmonton, Canada

Adjunct Professor, Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, Edmonton, AB.  T6G 2E9

E-Mail address:

For further information, see:  Environment Canada

Professional Memberships:

Member, IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group

Scientific Advisor, Polar Bears International


Honorary Doctor of Science: University of Alberta and University of British Columbia, 2011

Fellow, Royal Society of Canada, 2007

Northern Science Award, Indian and Northern Affairs Canada, 2003

Officer, Order of Canada, 2000

Research Interests:
My research interests are with the population ecology of seals in both polar regions and polar bears in the Arctic, the effects of climate warming on polar bears and seals, and conservation and management of polar bears, seals, and polar marine ecosystems. Since retirement from running active field programs, my research activity primarily consists of analyzing data I have collected over the years on a variety of topics and writing papers, either in collaboration with colleagues and graduate students or on my own. I continue to gather modest amounts of new data on an opportunistic basis in a number of other polar venues.


I am no longer taking graduate students for research-based theses but continue to participate on thesis committees. On a request basis, I continue to do guest lectures and provide informal advice and comment to students in the Department of Biological Sciences, University of Alberta, and elsewhere.


Recent publications that reflect some of my research interests:


Most recent book on polar bears:


Stirling, I. 2011. Polar Bears: The Natural History of a Threatened Species. Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Markham, ON. 334 pp.


Selected publications: 

Stirling, I., and Derocher, A.E. 2012. Effects of Climate Warming on Polar Bears: A Review of the Evidence. (invited review) Global Climate Biology 18:2694-2706.


Stirling, I., McDonald, T.L., Richardson, E.S., Regehr, E.V., and Amstrup, S.C. 2011. Polar bear population status in the Northern Beaufort Sea, Canada, 1971–2006. Ecological Applications 21:859–876.


Stirling, I., and Ross, J.E. 2011. Observations of cannibalism by polar bears (Ursus maritimus) on summer and autumn sea ice at Svalbard, Norway. Arctic 64:478-482.


Hobson, K.A., Stirling, I., and Andriashek, D.S. Isotopic homogeneity of breath CO2 from fasting and berry-eating polar bears: Implications for tracing reliance on terrestrial foods in a changing Arctic. Canadian Journal of Zoology 87:50-55.


Davis, C.S., Stirling, I., Strobeck, C., and Coltman, D. 2008. Population structure of ice-breeding seals. Molecular Ecology 17:3078–3094.


Thiemann, G.W., Iverson, S.J., and Stirling, I. Polar bear diets and arctic marine food webs: insights from fatty acid analysis. Ecological Monographs, 78:591–613.


Laidre, K.L., Stirling, I., Lowry, L.F., Wiig, Ø., Heide-Jørgensen, M-P., and Ferguson, S.H. 2008. Quantifying the sensitivity of arctic marine mammals to climate-induced habitat change. Ecological Applications 18 Supplement: S97–S125.


Regehr, E.V., Lunn, N.J., Amstrup, S.C., Stirling, I.  Effects of earlier sea ice breakup on survival and population size of polar bears in western Hudson Bay.  Journal of   Wildlife Management 71:2673-2683.

Stirling, I., and C.L. Parkinson. 2006. Possible Effects of Climate Warming on Selected Populations of Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) in the Canadian Arctic. Arctic 59(3):261-275.

Stirling, I. 2002. Polar Bears and Seals in the Eastern Beaufort Sea and Amundsen Gulf: A Synthesis of Population Trends and Ecological Relationships over Three Decades. Arctic 55, Supplement 1:59-76.

Stirling, I. and J.A. Thomas. 2001. Relationships between underwater vocalizations and mating systems in phocid seals. Aquatic Mammals 29:247-246.

Stirling, I., N.J. Lunn and J. Iacozza. 1999. Long-term trends in the population ecology of polar bears in western Hudson Bay in relation to climatic change.  Arctic 52:294-306.

Stirling, I. and Øritsland, N.A. 1995.  Relationships between estimates of ringed seal and polar bear populations in the Canadian Arctic. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 52:2594-2612.


Bradley Stelfox







Last Modified: 2014-07-18