Dr. Nicholas J. Lunn

Image Nicholas J. Lunn
Research Scientist - Polar Bear Ecology and Arctic Marine Ecosystems

Create new scientific knowledge in wildlife ecology, conservation and management, particularly polar bears and seals, by formulating new concepts, theories, approaches and hypotheses, and by designing, planning and conducting innovative, original scientific research in support of Environment and Climate Change Canada policies and programs.

Provide scientific and technical information, expert advice, and leadership on arctic issues, with particular reference to polar bears, seals, and marine ecosystems, to Environment and Climate Change Canada senior management, other provincial, territorial, federal, and foreign government departments, national and international agencies, institutes and universities, the private and public sector, and the national and international scientific community.

Conservation and protection of wildlife species for all Canadians.

Current research and/or projects

Contributing to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s mandate to ensure wildlife is conserved and protected

  • Population dynamics and general ecology of polar bears, a keystone species that provides insight into the overall health of biodiversity within the Arctic marine ecosystem
  • Effects of climatic change on the ecology of polar bears in western Hudson Bay and on factors that influence their long-term reproductive performance
  • Original and management-oriented research on polar bears, pinnipeds (e.g., seals, walruses) and ecological inter-relationships in the Arctic marine ecosystem

Professional activities / interests

Environment and Climate Change Canada representative on the Canadian Polar Bear Technical Committee, which meets annually to review and exchange technical information, coordinate research activities and provides technical advice to the Polar Bear Administrative Committee in support of Canada’s conservation responsibilities under the Agreement on the Conservation of Polar Bears (1973)

Environment and Climate Change Canada representative on the Scientific Working Group to the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on Polar Bear, which provides the Joint Commission with scientific advice and recommendations with respect to the conservation and management of shared polar bear subpopulations

Editorial Advisor, journal Arctic

Review research grant applications, research proposals, and manuscripts submitted to scientific journals

Member of supervisory committees for graduate students (6 MSc. and 2 PhD. students at the University of Alberta and York University; External Examiner for 1 Ph.D. student at the University of Saskatchewan, to date)

Education and awards

Environment Canada Citation of Excellence (Teamwork, Partnering and Collaboration) in recognition of contribution to the 2007 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC (2008)

Izaak Walton Killam Memorial Postdoctoral Fellowship, University of Alberta, 1995-1996

Ph.D., British Antarctic Survey and Open University, 1993

M.Sc., University of Alberta, 1985

B.Sc., University of Alberta, 1981

Key publications

Castro de la Guardia, L., P.G. Myers, A.E. Derocher, N.J. Lunn and A.D. Terwisscha van Scheltinga. 2017. Sea ice cycle in western Hudson Bay, Canada, from a polar bear perspective. Marine Ecology Progress Series 564:225-233.

Sciullo, L., G.W. Thiemann, N.J. Lunn and S.H. Ferguson. 2017. Intraspecific and temporal variability in the diet composition of female polar bears in a seasonal sea ice regime. Arctic Science doi:10.1139/as-2017-0004.

Togunov, R.R., A.E. Derocher and N.J. Lunn. 2017. Windscapes and olfactory foraging in a large carnivore. Scientific Reports 7:46332.

Yee, M., J. Reimer, N.J. Lunn, R.R. Togunov, N.W. Pilfold, A. McCall and A.E. Derocher. 2017. Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) migration from maternal dens in western Hudson Bay. Arctic 70: 319-327.

Cherry, S.G., A.E. Derocher, A.E. and N.J. Lunn. 2016. Habitat-mediated timing of migration in polar bears: an individual perspective. Ecology and Evolution 6:5032-5042.

Lunn, N.J., S. Servanty, E.V. Regehr, S.J. Converse, E. Richardson and I. Stirling. 2016. Demography of an apex predator at the edge of its range – impacts of changing sea ice on polar bears in Hudson Bay. Ecological Applications 26:1302-1320.

McCall, A.G., N.W. Pilfold, A.E. Derocher and N.J. Lunn. 2016. Seasonal habitat selection by adult female polar bears in western Hudson Bay. Population Ecology 58:407-419.

Pilfold, N.W., D. Hedman, I. Stirling, A.E. Derocher, N.J. Lunn and E. Richardson. 2016. Mass loss rates of fasting polar bears. Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 89:377-388.

Regehr, E.V., K.L. Laidre, H.R. Akçakaya, S.C. Amstrup, T.C. Atwood, N.J. Lunn, M. Obbard, H. Stern, G.W. Thiemann and Ø. Wiig. 2016. Conservation status of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) in relation to projected sea-ice declines. Biology Letters 12:20160556, doi: 10.1098/rsbl.2016.0556.

Sciullo, L., G.W. Thiemann and N.J. Lunn. 2016. Comparative assessment of metrics for monitoring the body condition of polar bears in Western Hudson Bay. Journal of Zoology 300:45-58.

Young, B.G., S.H. Ferguson and N.J. Lunn. 2015. Variation in indices of ringed seal density and abundance in western Hudson Bay determined through aerial surveys, 1995 to 2013. Arctic 68:301-309.

McCall, A.G., A.E. Derocher and N.J. Lunn. 2015. Home range distribution of polar bears in western Hudson Bay. Polar Biology 38:343-355.

Castro de la Guardia, L., A.E. Derocher P.G. Myers, A.D. Terwisscha van Scheltinga and N.J. Lunn. 2013. Future sea ice conditions in western Hudson Bay and consequences for polar bears in the 21st century. Global Change Biology 19:2675-2687.

Cherry, S.G., A.E. Derocher, G.W. Thiemann and N.J. Lunn. 2013. Migration phenology and seasonal fidelity of an Arctic marine predator in relation to sea ice dynamics. Journal of Animal Ecology 82:912-921.

Derocher, A.E., J. Aars, S.C. Amstrup, A. Cutting, N.J. Lunn, P.K. Molnár, M.E. Obbard, I. Stirling, G.W. Thiemann, D. Vongraven, Ø. Wiig and G. York. 2013. Rapid ecosystem change and polar bear conservation. Conservation Letters 6:368-375.

Chambellant, M., N.J. Lunn and S.H. Ferguson. 2012. Temporal variation in distribution and density of ice-obligated seals in western Hudson Bay, Canada. Polar Biology 35:1105-1117.

Thiemann, G.W., N.J. Lunn, E.S. Richardson and D.S. Andriashek. 2011. Temporal change in the morphometry-body mass relationship of polar bears. Journal of Wildlife Management 75:580-587.

Lunn, N.J., D. Vongraven, S. Schliebe and S. Belikov. 2010. Polar bears. Pages 26-28 In Arctic Biodiversity Trends 2010 – Selected Indicators of Change. Edited by T. Kurvits, B. Alfthan and E. Mork. CAFF International Secretariat, Akureyri, Iceland.

Peacock, E., A.E. Derocher, N.J. Lunn and M.E. Obbard. 2010. Polar bear ecology and management in Hudson Bay in the face of climate change. Pages 93-115 in A Little Less Arctic: Top Predators in the World’s Largest Northern Inland Sea. Edited by S.H. Ferguson, L.L. Loseto and M.L. Mallory. Springer, New York. Abstract.

Towns, L., A.E. Derocher, I. Stirling, N.J. Lunn and D. Hedman. 2009. Spatial and temporal patterns of problem polar bears in Churchill, Manitoba. Polar Biology 32:1529-1537. Abstract.

Lunn, N.J. 2007. Polar bears – a species in peril? Box 4.3, Page 231 in A. Fischlin, G.F. Midgley, J.T. Price, R. Leemans, B. Gopal, C. Turley, M.D.A. Rounsevell, O.P. Dube, J. Tarazona and A.A. Velichko. 2007: Ecosystems, their properties, goods, and services. Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Edited by M.L. Parry, O.F. Canziani, J.P. Palutikof, P.J. van der Linden and C.E. Hanson. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge.

Regehr, E.V., N.J. Lunn, S.C. Amstrup and I. Stirling. 2007. Effects of earlier sea ice breakup on survival and population size of polar bears in western Hudson Bay. Journal of Wildlife Management 71:2673-2683. Abstract.

Derocher, A.E., N.J. Lunn and I. Stirling. 2004. Polar bears in a warming climate. Integrative and Comparative Biology 44:163-176. Abstract. [doi:10.1093/icb/44.2.163]

Lunn, N.J., I. Stirling, D. Andriashek and E. Richardson. 2004. Selection of maternity dens by female polar bears in western Hudson Bay, Canada and the effects of human disturbance. Polar Biology 27:350-356.

Stirling, I., N.J. Lunn and J. Iacozza. 1999. Long-term trends in the population ecology of polar bears in western Hudson Bay. Arctic 52:294-306.

Lunn, N.J., I. Stirling, D. Andriashek and G.B. Kolenosky. 1997. Re-estimating the size of the polar bear population in western Hudson Bay. Arctic 50:234-240.

Lunn, N.J., I. Stirling, S.N. Nowicki. 1997. Distribution and abundance of ringed and bearded seals in western Hudson Bay. Canadian Journal of Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences 54:914-921.


Member, Canadian Polar Bear Technical Committee

Member and Co-Chair, IUCN/SSC Polar Bear Specialist Group

Member, Scientific Working Group to the Canada-Greenland Joint Commission on Polar Bear

Member, International Association for Bear Research and Management

Member, The Society for Marine Mammalogy