Dr. Steven Amstrup

Dr. Steven Amstrup

Dr. Steven C. Amstrup is chief scientist for Polar Bears International. He also is an adjunct professor at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. Before joining PBI, Amstrup was a research wildlife biologist with the United States Geological Survey at the Alaska Science Center, Anchorage AK., where he led polar bear research in Alaska for 30 years. He earned a B.S. in Forestry from the University of Washington (1972), a M.S. in Wildlife Management from the University of Idaho (1975), and a Ph.D. in Wildlife Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks (1995). 

Amstrup led research on all aspects of polar bear ecology in the Beaufort Sea between 1980 and 2010. He is a past chairman of the IUCN Polar Bear Specialist Group and has been an active member of the group since 1980. His interests include distribution and movement patterns as well as population dynamics of wildlife, and how information on those topics can be used to assure wise stewardship. He is particularly interested in how science can help to reconcile the ever-enlarging human footprint on our environment with the needs of other species for that same environment. Prior work experiences include studies of black bears in central Idaho, and pronghorns and grouse in Wyoming. 

On their honeymoon in New Zealand, Amstrup and his wife Virginia helped in a tagging study of little blue penguins. That experience gave Steve the honor of being one of the very few people ever to have been bitten by both polar bears, which occur only in the northern hemisphere, and penguins, which occur only in the southern hemisphere. 

Amstrup has authored or coauthored over 150 peer-reviewed articles on movements, distribution and population dynamics of large mammals, and is the senior editor of a recent text on population estimation methods. In 2007, Amstrup led a USGS research team in production of 9 reports that were instrumental in convincing the U.S. Secretary of Interior polar bears should be declared threatened under the U.S. Endangered Species Act because of the threats they face from anthropogenic global warming. In the December 2010 issue of Nature, Dr. Amstrup and his coauthors showed that polar bears are not unavoidably doomed, that their preservation depends on halting human-caused temperature rise. In 2012, Amstrup was selected as recipient of the Indianapolis Prize and a Bambi Award for his efforts in animal conservation. In July 2020, Dr. Amstrup and colleagues published a study in Nature Climate Change, following up on his 2010 paper, that used new understandings of polar bear energetics to forecast when future sea ice losses will reach thresholds after which reproduction and survival will lead to rapid population declines in different polar bear subpopulations. This marked the first time that scientists answered the critical question of when the persistence of polar bear populations across the Arctic will be threatened due to sea ice loss from global warming.

Sampling of Scientific Papers by Dr. Steven C. Amstrup

Download the following resources:

Allocating Harvests among Polar Bear Stocks in the Beaufort Sea
Survival Rates of Radio-Collared Female Polar Bears and Their Dependent Young