January 17, 2007

Charles Harmon Director of University Relations, Dr. David L. Bechler Biology Department (229) 293-6063

Impact of Global Warming? Polar Bears subject of VSU ConnellLecture

The 25th Anniversary of Valdosta State University’s Annual Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecture Series will be a discussion on the “Long-Term Trends in Polar Bear Ecology in Relation to Climatic Change.” Dr. Nick J. Lunn, Research Scientist with the Canadian Wildlife Service, Environment Canada, will be the lecturer. The event, which is free and open to the public, is scheduled for Thursday, January 25, 2007 at 7:00 p.m. in VSU’s Whitehead Auditorium.

Polar bears and their future have been in the headlines in recent months with discussion centered on the possible impact of global warming. On December 27, 2006, U.S. Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne announced the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proposing to list the polar bear as a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act and initiating a comprehensive scientific review to assess the current status and future of the species. Dr. Lunn was quoted in the national media following the Interior Department’s announcement. He previously has been interviewed or appeared on CBS’s 60 Minutes, the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s News In Depth, CNN, and ABC’s the Foreign Correspondent.

Lunn’s primary research interests lie in polar marine ecology, with particular emphasis on marine mammals. He has been involved in studies of polar bears, arctic seals, Antarctic fur seals, penguins, and albatrosses. Currently, his research is directed towards polar bears and ecological relationships within marine ecosystems.

“Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) live throughout the ice-covered waters of the circumpolar Arctic,” says Lunn. “Despite some uncertainty with respect to magnitude, scenarios predicted by global climate models suggest increased rates of warming and substantial loss of sea ice throughout the Arctic.” He says polar bears will be particularly vulnerable to the effects of a warming climate because of their dependence on sea ice.

Lunn received his B.Sc. and M.Sc. from the University of Alberta and undertook his Ph.D. with the British Antarctic Survey in Cambridge, United Kingdom.

The Clyde Eugene Connell Visiting Lecturer Program, coordinated through VSU’s Biology Department, was the first endowed visiting lecturer program established at Valdosta State. The program is named after former VSU biology professor Dr. Clyde Eugene Connell.
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