Dyck and Kebreab (2009) analyzed the required summer intake of arctic char, ringed seal blubber, and berries that polar bears must consume to maintain their body mass during a summer ice-free period. Their calculations of required intake were based on the amount of body mass lost by fasting bears in western Hudson Bay. However, fasting polar bears are in a low metabolic state with energetic requirements less than those of an active, feeding bear. Estimates of energy consumed by captive brown bears were 4–4.5 times higher than the estimates used by Dyck and Kebreab for similar diets. Furthermore, the authors' portrayal of the availability of these resources is misleading because they do not acknowledge limited accessibility of arctic char due to their limited anadromy and predominant occurrence in streams too deep to facilitate efficient capture by polar bears; effects of large interannual fluctuations in the availability of berries or competition with other frugivores; high energetic requirements associated with lengthy foraging times required to locate and consume sufficient fruit; and data from southern Hudson Bay, western Hudson Bay, and the southern Beaufort Sea that document continued declines in several biological indices over the past several decades despite the authors' suggested availability of terrestrially based food resources. Based on current information, arctic char, berries, and ringed seals in open water do not appear to be food sources with the potential to offset the nutritional consequences of an extended ice-free period.
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Vol. 91 • No. 6