Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) mating during late June on the pack ice of northern Svalbard, Norway
Polar bears are seasonal breeders and typically mate from late March to early May. Implantation is, however, delayed until autumn, which can allow plasticity in the date of mating. As for other seasonal breeders, a rapid return to estrus after the loss of dependent offspring can be expected, even into the summer. A few earlier observations and dissections of dead animals suggest that polar bears are able to mate in summer. We report on a mating incident on 29 June 2014, the first documented mating this late in the season among wild polar bears. The female had lost her dependent cub during the period prior to the mating event. We speculate that she lost this cub late in the mating season, entered estrus and successfully mated in late June.
Keywords: Polar bear; mating season; mating behaviour; Svalbard; Arctic.
(Published: 2 March 2015)
Citation: Polar Research 2015, 34, 25786, http://dx.doi.org/10.3402/polar.v34.25786
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Authors retain copyright of their work, with first publication rights granted to the Norwegian Polar Institute.