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Section One[edit]

LIB2002 Reference 1

September 30th 2013

Assignment #1 Research Project

Gretchen Wintermeyer

Topic: Polar Bears and Climate Change

Wikipedia Articles:

  • Wikipedia contributors. "Climate change in the Arctic." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 17 Sep. 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013
  • Wikipedia contributors. "Climate change in Canada." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 24Aug. 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013
  • Wikipedia contributors. "Polar bear." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 10 Sep. 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013

Encyclopedia Articles:

  • Bloom, A. J. "Polar Bears: Struggling in the Warming Arctic." The Encyclopedia of Earth. 7 May 2012. Web. 21 Sep 2013.
  • Campbell, Colin and Kate Lunau. "Is the Polar Bear Threatened." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historical Foundation of Canada, 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013.
  • Cleveland, C. "Polar Bears and Three-Year-Olds on Thin Ice (historical)." The Encyclopedia of Earth. 23 Dec. 2010. Web. 21 Sep. 2013.

Research Process:

I wanted to research polar bears and their endangerment in the Arctic. On Wikipedia I found a very long and comprehensive article entitled "Polar Bear". The table of contents was helpful and each section of the article gave me some general information on this marine mammal, its habitat and some relevant issues. I was interested in the threatened status of the polar bear and how climate change is reducing the Arctic sea ice cover and destroying their habitat. This first Wikipedia article provided some general information about polar bear endangerment, which led me to an article on "Climate Change in the Arctic" and then to further search and find an article on "Climate Change in Canada." Having reviewed all the information in these Wikipedia articles, I found that they did not give me enough information for in-depth research. It was hard to find information that delved into my deeper questions and issues including population decline, the real impact of global warming such as drowning and starvation, and the results on reproduction and food sources.

In searching encyclopedia, I first went to The Canadian Encyclopedia. I found a few articles that focused on the effects of climate change on Polar bears. The best article "Is the Polar Bear Threatened?" included more specific information on the changing climate of the Arctic and the debate about the polar bear being endangered. It also included the threat of overhunting and the impact of this on the Inuit culture and economy. I wanted to focus my research on more of the details of climate change. Next I searched the Encyclopedia of Earth where I found several short articles. I used two articles "Polar Bears Struggling in the Warming Arctic" and "Polar Bears and Three-Year-Olds on Thin Ice". They were both helpful, providing general information. There were also helpful references and links to more resources.

I found both Wikipedia and encyclopedia to be good starting points to gather information for my research but they did not provide me in-depth information for a school research project. Reading these articles did give me a good understanding and outline for the important information I was looking for. But I was looking for more precise information on my topic. Wikipedia is very different from encyclopedia because articles are always being edited and changed. The fact that anyone can edit information on Wikipedia makes it unreliable because there may be mistakes and biased information. Wikipedia suggests that users verify source accuracy. Wikipedia is visually harder to use as the long articles and links seem to go on forever. The encyclopedia are visually more user-friendly and easier to follow. They are catalogues of subject topics which help provide a good and comprehensive beginning for research. The articles are previously published in magazines, journals, books, etc. and cannot be edited. The subject-based Earth Encyclopedia is very helpful as a starting point for more focused information like polar bears and climate change. It is helpful that the encyclopedia provides key words, books and authors names on the topic to help guide the research process.

Section Two[edit]

Gretchen Wintermeyer

Professor H. Merriam

LIB2002 Reference 1

11th November 2013

Wikipedia Assignment #2: Wikipedia Comparison

My review of polar bears and the effects of global warming on their sea ice habitat, began with the "Polar bear" article in Wikipedia. The table of contents is very complete and lists topics relating to the life, evolution, behaviour and future of polar bears. The order of information is important because it begins with more general knowledge of the animal and its habitat, and then moves to more specific issues and descriptions around the bear's physical needs, history, and hunting and conservation. Each written section of the article includes links to many relevant topics to the polar bear, such as the Arctic Circle, subspecies, permafrost, continental shelf, apex predator, habitat loss and Canada's Species at Risk Act. These links provide further information that relates to the polar bear's life and vulnerability to climate change and pollution. The article's statements about conservation and climate change include many of the major issues that are significant today when describing the polar bear. These include how exactly global warming is killing bears, contamination from pollutants because they are at the top of the food chain, and oil and gas development in their habitat.

The Wikipedia article provides the major information needed to understand the background and life of polar bears with lots of interesting facts that make it very creative and insightful. The article is easy to read, flowing well from one topic to the next, building a story. All of this helps prepare for an understanding of the evolution and cultural importance of polar bears, and for a follow-up review of the effects of global warming on their loss of habitat. Predictions and controversy about climate change are written in an informative and objective way. The use of photos, video clips, graphs and maps breaks up the reading and gives more detail, reference facts and great visuals. The article ends with some pop culture information that is fun and shows just how important polar bears are to our Canadian culture.

My second article for review was "Polar Bear" from the Canadian Encyclopedia online. This article provides information on four topics about the polar bear: distribution and abundance, diet, reproduction, and biological importance. Each topic is one small paragraph with the exception of the final topic which has four paragraphs. The information is written more like a definition of the topic with little description and no citations. There are a few links to other relevant information to polar bears such as Hudson Bay, seals, sea ice and the ecosystem. These linked articles provide some good information related to the polar bear's habitat and hunting, and are short and concise. There are three photos provided in the "Polar Bear" article, with one small map of Canada's Arctic habitat to help the reader. The Canadian Encyclopedia article also has a short summary of the polar bear's current international 'vulnerable' status by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, and Canada's listing of 'special concern' by the Committee on the Status of Endangered Species in Canada. There is also short summary of the chemical pollutants caused by our industries that affect polar bears. These are good introductions to searching for more information on environmental threats to polar bears.

In comparing the two, The Wikipedia article has more comprehensive, helpful content and links to further reading about the extraordinary life of the polar bear. Wikipedia discusses the four subject topics included in the Canadian Encyclopedia article listed above, and much more. With a broader scope Wikipedia discusses a total of eight topics and 27 subtopics as outlined in the table of contents ("Polar bear"). The content of the Canadian Encyclopedia article with just four topics, is brief and general.

The Wikipedia article provides several statements about a specific fact or detail, while the Canadian Encyclopedia article summarizes with just one or two statements. For example, the Canadian Encyclopedia provides a summary statement about the physical characteristics of the male: "Adult males are typically 2.4-2.6 metres in length and weigh 400-600 kilograms" ("Polar Bear"). Wikipedia provides several detailed statements: "Adult male polar bears weigh 350–700 kg (770–1,500 lb.) and measure 2.4–3 m (8–10 ft.) in total length.[1] The Guinness Book of World Records listed the average male as having a body mass of 385 to 410 kg (849 to 900 lb.) and a shoulder height of 133 cm (4 ft. 4 in), slightly smaller than the average cited for male Kodiak bears.[2] Around the Beaufort Sea, however, mature males reportedly average 450 kg (1,000 lb.)[3]

Another example of this difference is around hunting seals. Canadian Encyclopedia says: "Polar bears catch seals when they surface at breathing holes, by stalking basking seals hauled out on the sea ice, and by breaking into the birth lairs of ringed seals" ("Polar Bears"). Wikipedia says: "The polar bear's most common hunting method is called still-hunting:[4] The bear uses its excellent sense of smell to locate a seal breathing hole, and crouches nearby in silence for a seal to appear. When the seal exhales, the bear smells its breath, reaches into the hole with a forepaw, and drags it out onto the ice. The polar bear kills the seal by biting its head to crush its skull. The polar bear also hunts by stalking seals resting on the ice: Upon spotting a seal, it walks to within 90 m (100 yd.), and then crouches. If the seal does not notice, the bear creeps to within 9 to 12 m (30 to 40 ft.) of the seal and then suddenly rushes forth to attack.[5] A third hunting method is to raid the birth lairs that female seals create in the snow.[4]

A final example of this major content difference is around mating. Canadian Encyclopedia says only that: "Mating occurs out on the sea ice in April and May" (Polar Bear). Wikipedia gives a better understanding of mating. "Courtship and mating take place on the sea ice in April and May, when polar bears congregate in the best seal hunting areas.[6] A male may follow the tracks of a breeding female for 100 km (60 mi) or more, and after finding her engage in intense fighting with other males over mating rights, fights which often result in scars and broken teeth.[6] Polar bears have a generally polygamous mating system; recent genetic testing of mothers and cubs, however, has uncovered cases of litters in which cubs have different fathers.[7] Partners stay together and mate repeatedly for an entire week; the mating ritual induces ovulation in the female.[8]

There are only ten links to further reading in the Canadian Encyclopedia article, and about 200 links to possible helpful further reading in the Wikipedia article. The Encyclopedia article is also missing some relevant content such as, their history and evolution maternity denning and cub growth, life expectancy, behaviour and swimming expertise.

There are also differences in reference information between the two polar bear articles. The Canadian Encyclopedia article is written by one author, Nicholas J. Lunn. He is a research scientist at Environment Canada's Northern Development Centre in Alberta, editorial advisor to the Journal "Arctic" and has written many polar bear and climate change articles ("Nick Lunn"). There is one suggested reading by Dr. Andrew E. Derocher, who is a professor of Biology at the University of Alberta, scientific advisor to Polar Bears International and the author of many papers ("Dr. Andrew Derocher"). There are ten 'Links to Other Sites'. Five of them are good information sites, such as the International Union for Conservation of Nature Polar Bear Specialist Group and the Arctic Portal, and two are for polar bear articles, one on cannibalism and one on challenges to polar bears. The reference information for the Canadian Encyclopedia article is not very comprehensive but it is current and the contributors are experts in their field.

The Wikipedia "Polar bear" article is written by many contributors and has 164 source citations (with 3 noted citations needed) from books, newspaper and journal articles written by scientists and authors with knowledge or expertise on polar bears. Examples include, Dr. Steven C. Amstrup, is a Zoologist and chief scientist for Polar Bears International ("Steven Amstrup"). Ian Stirling is a professor of Biology at the University of Alberta and has written a book on polar bears ("Ian Stirling"). Dr. Mitchell Taylor is a Canadian Biologist who worked for the government of Nunavut and has published more than fifty papers on polar bears ("Mitchell Taylor"). Norbert Rosing is a photographer and author on polar bears and an ambassador to the UN Decade of Biodiversity ("Norbert Rosing"). The Wikipedia article has seven references for general books on polar bears. There are eight 'External Links' for further research, with a few sites like the National Wildlife Federation, Polar Bears International, BBC Wildlife and the US Geological Survey, all having lots of good information. The Reference information for the Wikipedia article is comprehensive, current and is provided by a lot of experts in the field.

The Wikipedia article "Polar bear" is listed as 'good' at the top of the page. This is a Wikipedia criteria rating that means that it is well written, accurate and has most of the key information on polar bears with reliable sources. There are several edit requests in the 'Talk" section that are wanting clarification or rewording. I agree that the "Polar bear" article is good because it covers all the major information helpful in researching the subject, is accurate and up to date, and gives reference information to help with more in-depth questions and research. The contributors have used a lot of expert scientific information. The article is long but the layout is well organized and easy to follow.

The Canadian Encyclopedia article "Polar Bear" is fair in my opinion. The information is not comprehensive or in any way complete with only four general topics. The content that is included is accurate and current, with both the article and suggested reading dated as 2012. Beyond basic statements about the four topics, there is not much detailed information provided, only one reference and a few good websites suggested for further reading. The author has significant expertise and experience. The article and layout is short and the advertising along the side of the page is distracting.

The most important difference between the two articles is that the Wikipedia article is a 'work in progress' always being updated with current issues and improved by interested contributors, while the Canadian Encyclopedia is not. This means that important information that is missing or lacking is always being added in Wikipedia, but might remain missing for some time in the Canadian Encyclopedia. For example, in Canadian Encyclopedia, polar bear 'distribution' lists polar bears as living in nineteen subpopulations, but it does not include these subpopulations in the four countries outside of Canada. This is a really important point because current work to protect polar bears and their habitat involves the United States, Russia, Greenland and Norway. In addition, the information provided in Canadian Encyclopedia about their Arctic habitat is limited, with only a short reference to ice melting from global warming and no summary of 'climate change'("Polar Bear"). This is really very surprising because current information about polar bears recognizes its vulnerability and possible extinction due to loss of sea ice habitat from global warming. A link is provided to further search for the environmental threats from 'climate change' but this does not mention polar bears. The linked article does provide a reference to a website about the Arctic habit that is also not focused on the polar bear.

Another example of this big difference, is around polar bear importance to indigenous people. The Canadian Encyclopedia notes only that: "Polar bears have high cultural and economic importance to Aboriginal groups throughout the Arctic" ("Polar Bear"). According to more current detailed information in the Wikipedia article, people of the Arctic have a long relationship with polar bears because they provide so many raw materials from hunting to sustain them, and because of their legends and spiritual beliefs. Hunting is still very important to northern people for food and income and designating the polar bear 'threatened' like in the United States would affect the future of Aboriginals ("Polar bear").

Wikipedia is a very helpful online free encyclopedia when it is used with caution and sources are checked. I feel that it is a much better resource for initial review and research than the Canadian Encyclopedia.

Ten Additional Resources on Polar Bears and Climate Change
  • Bloom, Arnold, J. "Polar Bears: Struggling in the Warming Arctic." The Encyclopedia of Earth. Weldon Owen Publishing, 7 May 2012. Web. 21 Sep. 2013.
  • Campbell, Colin and Kate Lunau. "Is the Polar Bear Threatened?" The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation of Canada, 2013. Web. 21 Sep. 2013.
  • Castro de la Guardia, Laura, et al. "Future Sea Ice Conditions in Western Hudson Bay and Consequences for Polar bears in the 21st Century." Global Change Biology 19.9. (2013): 2647–2687. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.
  • Derocher, Andrew D. and Wayne Lynch. Polar Bears: A Complete Guide to Their Biology and Behaviour. China: The John Hopkins University Press, 2012. Print.
  • Dybas, Cheryl Lyn. "Polar Bears are in Trouble – and Ice Melt's not the Half of it." BioScience 62.12 (Dec. 2012): 1014–1018. Print.
  • Hogan, Michael C. "Polar Bear," The Encyclopedia of Earth. Weldon Owen Publishing, 7 Sep. 2011. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.
  • Rosing, Norbert. The World of the Polar Bear. Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, 2006. Print.
  • Stirling, Ian, and Andrew E. Derocher. "Effects of Climate Warming on Polar Bears: A Review of the Evidence." Global Change Biology 18.9 (Sep. 2012): 2694–2706. Print.
  • Stirling, Ian and Jenny E. Ross. "Observations of Cannibalism by Polar Bears (Ursus maritimus) on Summer and Autumn Sea Ice at Svalbard, *Norway." Arctic 64.4 (Dec. 2011) 478–482. Print.
  • Unger, Zac. "The Truth about Polar Bears." Canadian Geographic, 132.6, Sep. 2012: 28–42. Print.
Notes
  1. ^ Hemstock, Annie. The Polar Bear. Manakato, MN: Capstone Press, 1999. p. 4.
  2. ^ Wood, G.L. The Guinness Book of Animal Records. 1983. p. 240.
  3. ^ Derocher, A. E., & Wiig, O. Postnatal growth in body length and mass of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) at Svalbard. Journal of Zoology 256.3 (2002): 343–49
  4. ^ a b Hemstock, Annie. The Polar Bear. Manakato, MN: Capstone Press, 1999. p. 24–7.
  5. ^ Matthews, Downs. Polar Bear. San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books, 1993. p. 73–88.
  6. ^ a b Stirling, Ian. "Reproduction." Polar Bears. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 1988.
  7. ^ Carpenter, Tom. "Who's Your Daddy?" Canadian Geographic. Ottawa: The Royal Canadian Geographic Society, Nov. Dec. 2005. p. 44–56.
  8. ^ Rosing, Norbert. The World of the Polar Bear. Richmond Hill, ON: Firefly Books, p. 42–8
References
  • Digital Reference. "Dr. Andrew Derocher." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 25 Apr. 2013. Web. 4 Nov.2013.
  • Digital Reference. "Mitchell Taylor." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 27 May 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
  • Digital Reference. "Nick Lunn." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16 Jun. 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
  • Digital Reference. "Norbert Rosing." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16 Jun. 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
  • Digital Reference. "Polar bear." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, 23 Oct. 2013. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.
  • Digital Reference. "Steven Amstrup." Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 16 Jun. 2013. Web. 4 Nov. 2013.
  • Lunn, Nicholas J. "Polar Bear." The Canadian Encyclopedia. Historica Foundation of Canada, 2012. Web. 19 Oct. 2013.