Testing Ocean DNA, Americans Pass a Science Quiz, and Polar Bear Diets


Tune into Science Friday today on WSQX from 2-4pm and learn how in California, monitoring marine protected areas can get expensive. Current efforts—which include underwater surveys conducted by scuba diving volunteers—have already cost the state $16 million, and in some places, there’s no funding left. But testing DNA in water samples could provide an effective alternative to more costly methods. KQED’s science and environment reporter, Lauren Sommer, discusses this story and other science news from the week.

Plus, when it comes to their diet, polar bears aren’t so finicky. Would they prefer a fatty ringed seal pup? Yes. But Robert Rockwell, a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, explains in a new study in PLOS ONE that the longtime “flexible foragers” have incorporated snow geese, eggs, and caribou into their diet as the ice-free season increases in Canada’s western Hudson Bay. Rockwell reflects on the good and bad of polar bears’ ability to face climate change and discusses how the biggest threat to their livelihood might not just be warmer temperatures.
Produced by Becky Fogel, Production Assistant

  • Lauren Sommer
    Science and Environment Reporter
    San Francisco, California
  • Robert Rockwell
    Research Associate
    American Museum of Natural History
    New York, New York

photo: Two polar bears were photographed near the coast of western Hudson Bay, where researchers have found that bears are consuming land-based foods during ice-free periods. Photo © AMNH/R. Rockwell