ArcticNet - About us

Steven Ferguson
Adjunct professor
University of Manitoba

I work for Fisheries and Oceans Canada (DFO) as a Research Scientist conducting research on Arctic marine mammal population ecology. 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 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 gather data to better understand marine mammal ecology. For example, knowing more about the arctic food web will help to understand variation in food for marine mammals that includes krill and fish. We are helping to survey the numbers of seals and whales in the Beaufort Sea and Hudson Bay areas where hydrocarbon development and hydroelectric activities, respectively are occurring. I will be helping to assess the movements and food habits of whales and seals to understand how contaminants move through the food web and may be affecting the health of marine mammals and their environment. I am interested in global climate change and how a reduction in sea ice extent will affect marine mammal distribution and abundance. Field work includes marine mammal capture and attaching satellite transmitters to monitor their movements and help determine their food habits and resource selection. Local Inuit hunters provide samples from hunted marine mammals that are being analyzed for contaminants, genetics, disease, reproduction, food habits, cohort analysis, and growth rates. We hope to better understand how climate, ocean, sea ice, and trophic links determine the viability of marine mammal populations in the Arctic. Knowledge of what areas seals and whales use during different times of the year will help to ensure hydrocarbon exploration in the Beaufort Sea and hydroelectric activity in Hudson Bay does no harm. Also, understanding how climate change is occurring will help us to predict changes in distribution and abundance of marine mammals with decreasing sea ice and its associated food changes. Local Inuit need the whales and seals for subsistence hunting and preservation of their social values. Their way of life is endangered by any changes in the movements and availability of marine mammals. The goal is to better understand the Arctic environment and preserve Arctic biodiversity.


Project Leader

Innovative Research on Monitoring Marine Mammals to Mitigate Impacts of a Changing Arctic

Project Member

Understanding the Effects of Climate Change and Industrial Development on Contaminant Processes and Exposure in the Canadian Arctic Marine Ecosystem: How Can we Prepare?

Sea Ice - Understanding and Modelling Ocean-Sea Ice-Atmosphere Biogeochemical Coupling in a Changing Climate

Knowledge Co-Production for the Identification and Selection of Ecological, Social, and Economic Indicators for the Beaufort Sea

Primary Address

Phone: 204-983-5057

Fax: 204-984-2403