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Marine Ecology Progress Series

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A ringed seal Pusa hispida (natchiq) mother and pup outside a partially melted lair in Kotzebue Sound.
Photo: Jessica Lindsay. NMFS MMPA Research Permit No. 19309

Lindsay JM, Hauser DDW, Mahoney AR, Laidre KL, Goodwin J, Harris C, Schaeffer RJ, Schaeffer R Sr, Whiting AV, Boveng PL, Laxague NJM, Betcher S, Subramaniam A, Witte CR, Zappa CJ

Characteristics of ringed seal Pusa hispida (‘natchiq’) denning habitat in Kotzebue Sound, Alaska, during a year of limited sea ice and snow

Ringed seals (natchiq in Iñupiaq, or Pusa hispida) use snow-covered dens on sea ice for pupping, but quantitative information on their denning habitat requirements is limited. Knowledge co-production with Iñupiaq Elders in Kotzebue Sound showed that spring snow depth and ice roughness were important for where ringed seals were found during drone-based aerial surveys. Surveys took place in a year of reduced snow and sea ice, possibly reflecting future seal habitat conditions and selection. Indigenous Knowledge, intentionally woven with scientific data, provided novel and more nuanced understandings of snow and sea-ice conditions for seals.


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