Organizers tried a “lightning round” this afternoon, accomodating a large number of oral presentations by limiting them to eight minutes each. The talks were sequenced in a fairly logical manner, and I could mostly follow them, which could mean they were a bit too dumbed down, given how high powered this audience is. It was certainly tough on the speakers, who do not seem to have figured out how to tailor their information to that length, and tended to skip over the methods and go directly to the results. Well, at least they covered a lot of ground.
Coming back for the evening mostly to hear Dave Garshelis, I found the poster authors all standing by their posters. This was great because the posters have been up all week, giving us the time to absorb them and formulate questions, and both Johanna and I found ourselves getting immersed in conversation after conversation, mostly regarding re-wilding of areas in the lower 48, until we realized the public lecture session had been moved to another room and we were missing it. We missed Dave’s talk. We stayed for the two following – first, the World Wildlife Fund’s Hui Wan discussing the efforts to restore fragmented habitat for Giant Panda in the face of tremendous economic development pressure. The good news is that the Chinese government is pushing the restoration with concrete measures like logging bans and placing a major highway through the mountains into a tunnel. The bad news is it’s going to take a lot of time, the pressures will continue, that these efforts mostly just affect the area north of Szechuan, where the largest bear populations are located, and do little for the more fragmented populations to the west that are closer to urbanization.
A third public lecture was delivered by Todd Atwood, the current leader of the USGS’s Polar Bear team. It was a fantastic overview, which I will go into in more depth in later posts. Basically, as mentioned earlier, Polar Bears choosing to come ashore when the ice pulls back are finding themselves subject to new risks of spreading disease and potential conflicts with humans and other species, such as Grizzlies. The vast majority of the Beaufort Sea Polar Bears are clustering around Bowhead Whale bone piles, but some have figured out how to prey on Beluga.