BearWatch: Monitoring Impacts of Arctic Climate Change using Polar Bears, Genomics and Traditional Ecological Knowledge

A Genome Canada-supported project



BearWatch seeks to create an alternate way to monitor polar bears across the Canadian Arctic using non-invasive genomics tools and Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit. BearWatch is a partnership among northern communities in Nunavut and the Inuvialuit Settlement Region, HTAs in Gjoa Haven and Coral Harbor, the Inuvialuit Game Council, the governments of Nunavut, Northwest Territories, and Yukon, the Canadian Rangers, and researchers and students at Queen’s University, University of Toronto, University of Calgary, Trent University, McGill University, University of British Columbia, University of Northern British Columbia, and the Institut National de la Recherche Scientifique.


Published Papers and Reports

  • Jensen, E.L., C. Tschritter, P.V.C. de Groot, K.M. Hayward*, M. Branigan, M. Dyck and S.C. Lougheed. 2020. Canadian polar bear population structure using genome-wide markers. Ecology and Evolution. Mar 24;10(8):3706-3714. Link to article

  • Wu, Y., D.R. Lougheed, S.C. Lougheed, K. Moniz, V.K. Walker & R.I. Colautti. 2020. baRcodeR with PyTrackDat: Open-source labelling and tracking of biological samples for repeatable science. 2020. Methods in Ecology and Evolution. 11(8): 980-985. Link to article

  • Hayward, H. M.P. Harwood, S.C. Lougheed, Z. Sun, P.V.C. de Groot, and E.L. Jensen. 2020. A qPCR assay to quantify the amount of polar bear DNA in fecal samples. PeerJ. 8:e8884 Link to article

  • Hayward, K., R. Clemente-Carvalho, E. Jensen, P.V.C. de Groot, M. Branigan, M. Dyck, C. Tschritter, Z. Sun, S.C. Lougheed. 2022. Genotyping-in-thousands by sequencing (GT-seq) of non-invasive fecal and degraded samples: a new panel to enable ongoing monitoring of Canadian polar bear populations. Molecular Ecology Resources. 22(5): 1906-1918. Link to article


  • Bearing the brunt of change. Queen’s Gazette Article. Chris Moffatt Armes. December 8, 2016. Link to Gazette article

  • Polar bears: A sentinel of Arctic environmental change. Queen’s Gazette Article. Wednesday March 10, 2021. By Ishita Aggarwal. Link to Gazette article

  • Study of Southampton Island polar bear dens to start this spring. Nunatsiaq News February 17, 2020. By Elaine Anselmi. Link to Nunatsiaq News article


Conference Presentations

  • Genomic tools to enable non-invasive monitoring of polar bears. Evelyn L. Jensen, P. VC de Groot, M. Branigan, M. Dyck, L. Waits and S. C. Lougheed. Talk at ArcticNet 2018. Ottawa, ON.

  • Genomic approaches for non-invasive scat-based monitoring of polar bears. Stephen C. Lougheed, Evelyn L. Jensen, Kristen Hayward, Rute Clemente-Carvalho, Zhengxin Sun, Markus Dyck, Marsha Branigan, and Peter VC de Groot. Talk at ArcticNet 2019. Halifax, NS.

  • BearWatch: Monitoring climate change impacts on polar bears using genomics and Inuit knowledge. David Fawcett, T. Pearce, J. Ford, G. Whitelaw, S. Flisikowski and S. Lougheed. Poster at ArcticNet 2019. Halifax, NS.

  • Mapping research on Inuit Traditional Ecological Knowledge of polar bear (Ursus maritimus) in the Canadian Arctic. Sarah Flisikowski, Tristan Pearce, Graham Whitelaw, Douglas Clark, James Ford and Kimberly Ovitz. Virtual talk at ArcticNEt 2020.

If you have questions please contact: Peter VC de Groot -, Graham Whitelaw - or Stephen Lougheed

Last updated 27 July 2022