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Steve Ferguson


Phone: (204) 983-5057
Fax: (204) 984-2403
Region: Central and Arctic
Office: Freshwater Institute Science Laboratory

Field(s) of Research:
  • Aquatic Animal Health
  • Aquatic Ecosystems Science
  • Aquatic Habitat / Aquatic Environmental Science
  • Biodiversity Science
  • Biological Oceanography
  • Ecosystem effects of fishing
  • Marine Mammal
  • Ocean Climate
  • Species at Risk

Research Description:
I am responsible for the population health of marine mammals in the Canadian Arctic that includes seals and whales. I am gathering information on how global warming and human economic development in the Arctic affects the ecology of marine mammals and ways to mitigate potential problems. The goal is to conserve the region?s diversity of marine mammals and their immediate environment. I conduct research into marine ecosystem ecology and have developed a string of communities across the Canadian Arctic to as part of a Community-Based Monitoring network. The objective is to empower Inuit to lead an Arctic Observation Network that adds considerably to our ability to monitor and understand the profound changes occurring in the circumpolar Arctic. Local Inuit hunters provide samples from harvested marine mammals that are being analyzed for contaminants, genetics, disease, reproduction, food habits, reproduction, survival, and growth rate. Marine mammal, fish, zooplankton, algae, water, and sediment samples are tested in labs to monitor chemical signals, such as fatty acids and stable isotopes, that reveal spatial and temporal trends in trophic relations. I study global climate change and how a reduction in sea ice extent will affect marine mammal fitness and ultimately impact their distribution and abundance. How will change affect northerners and how can we assist to provide mitigative solutions that will help them adapt? The ultimate goal is to preserve Arctic biodiversity.

  • PhD Biology (1998)
    University of Saskatchewan
  • Honours Zoology (1979)
    University of Guelph
  • MSc Biology (1986)
    University of Victoria
Centre(s) of Expertise:
  1. Age structure, growth, mortality, and density of belugas (Delphinapterus leucas) in the Canadian Arctic: responses to environment?
  2. Diet differences among age classes of Arctic seals: evidence from stable isotope and mercury biomarkers
  3. M.M.R. Freeman and L. Foote (eds): Inuit, Polar Bears, and Sustainable Use: Local National and International Perspectives
  4. Marine mammal and seabird summer distribution and abundance in the fjords of northeast Cumberland Sound of Baffin Island, Nunavut, Canada
  5. Past, Present, and Future for Bowhead Whales (Balaena mysticetus) in Northwest Hudson Bay
  6. Stable isotopes and trace elements as indicators of diet and habitat use in cetaceans: predicting errors related to preservation, lipid extraction, and lipid normalization
  7. The Rise of Killer Whales as a Major Arctic Predator
  8. Ageing live ringed seals (Phoca hispida): Which tooth to pull?
  9. Ecosystem regime shifts have not affected growth and survivorship of eastern Beaufort Sea belugas
  10. Loss of Arctic sea ice causing punctuated change in sightings of killer whales (Orcinus orca) over the past century
  11. Mercury trends in ringed seals (Phoca hispida) from the Western Canadian Arctic since 1973: Associations with length of ice-free season
  12. Summer diet of beluga whales inferred by fatty acid analysis of the eastern Beaufort Sea food web
  13. Trophodynamics of Some PFCs and BFRs in a Western Canadian Arctic Marine Food Web
  14. How Social Behaviour Links Environment and Body Size in Mammalian Carnivores
  15. Linking Habitat and Feeding Behaviour to Mercury Exposure in Beaufort Sea Beluga Whales
  16. Quantifying the sensitivity of Arctic marine mammals to climate-induced habitat change
  17. Size and Biomagnification: How Habitat Selection Explains Beluga Mercury Levels
  18. Dentine deposition rates in beluga (Delphinapterus leucas): An analysis of the evidence
  19. Effects of mine development on woodland caribou Rangifer tarandus distribution
  20. Phylogeny and divergence of the pinnipeds (Carnivora: Mammalia) assessed using a multigene supertree with fossil calibrations
  21. Does seasonality explain the evolution and maintenance of delayed implantation in the family Mustelidae (Mammalia: Carnivora)?
  22. How seals divide up the world: environmental, life-history, and conservation
  23. Segregation of Beaufort Sea beluga whales during the open-water season
  24. The influence of environment, mating habitat, and predation on evolution of pinniped lactation strategies
  25. Climate change and ringed seal (Phoca hispida) recruitment in western Hudson Bay
  26. Demography and viability of a hunted population of polar bears
  27. Use of lake areas in winter by woodland caribou
  28. Are long penis bones an adaptation to high latitude snowy environments?
  29. Does predation or moisture explain distance to edge distribution of soil arthropods?
  30. Effects of poisoning nonindigenous slugs in a boreal forest
  31. Habitat requirements of boreal forest caribou during the travel seasons
  32. Influence of edge on predator-prey distribution and abundance
  33. Is mustelid life history different?
  34. Nature Science Update Story
  35. Seasonal movement patterns of woodland caribou Rangifer tarandus caribou
  36. Comparing snag abundance 20, 30, and 40 years following fire and harvesting disturbance in a boreal forest
  37. Evolution of induced ovulation in North American carnivores
  38. Can comparing life histories help conserve carnivores?
  39. Dynamics of springtail and mite populations: the role of density dependence, predation, and weather
  40. On the evolution of the mammalian baculum: vaginal friction, prolonged intromission, and induced ovulation?
  41. The effects of productivity and seasonality on life history: comparing age at maturity among moose (Alces alces) populations
  42. The power law in forest management: how to grow dead trees
  43. Using survivorship curves to estimate age of first reproduction in moose Alces alces
  44. Activity and movement patterns of polar bears inhabiting consolidating versus active pack ice
  45. Changes in trophic abundance of soil arthropods along a grass-shrub-forest gradient
  46. Delineating Canadian and Greenland polar bear (Ursus maritimus) populations by cluster analysis of movements
  47. A hierarchical sequence of limiting factors may help explain variation in home range size
  48. Effect of energy availability, seasonality, and geographic range on brown bear life history
  49. Influence of sea ice dynamics on habitat selection by polar bears
  50. Intraspecific variation in home range overlap with habitat quality: a comparison among brown bear populations
  51. Predator size and distance to edge: is bigger better?
  52. Relationship between denning of polar bears and sea-ice conditions
  53. The influences of density on growth and reproduction in moose Alces alces
  54. Annual and seasonal movement patterns of barren-ground grizzly bears in the central Northwest Territories
  55. Determinants of range size in polar bears (Ursus maritimus)
  56. Fractals, sea-ice landscape, and spatial dispersion of polar bears
  57. Space use of polar bears in and around Auyuittuq National Park, Northwest Territories, during the ice-free period
  58. Ecological implications of a latitudinal gradient in inter-annual climatic variability: a test using fractal and chaos theories
  59. Evolution of delayed implantation and associated grade shifts in life history traits of North American carnivores
  60. Predation risk and habitat selection in the persistence of a remnant caribou population
  61. Differential habitat use and sexual segregation of the Central Arctic caribou herd
  62. Distribution and movements of caribou, Rangifer tarandus, in the Central Arctic region of Alaska
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