Arctic Beringia lies at the juncture of the eastern and western hemispheres, encompassing an area of tundra and shallow marine shelf areas that extend from the Kolyma River in the Chukotka region of the Russian Federation, across Alaska, and to the Banks Island in the Inuvik Region of the Northwest Territories, Canada.
The region’s tundra, coastal, and marine habitats are home to most of what we would imagine as quintessential Arctic wildlife – polar bears, bowhead and beluga whales, walruses, ringed and bearded seals, muskoxen, arctic foxes, and caribou. The numbers of wildlife that migrate through this region each year are staggering – hundreds of thousands of caribou, over a hundred and fifty thousand walruses, thirteen thousand bowhead whales, and millions of shorebirds, waterfowl, and seabirds. For species like the Western Arctic bowhead whale and Pacific walrus, this represents their entire global population. A diverse array of indigenous cultures – including the Chukchi, Siberian Yupik, St. Lawrence Island Yupik, Central Yup’ik, Iñupiat, Inuit, Athabaskan, and Aleut – are closely connected with and reliant upon this region’s wildlife and environment for food security and cultural continuity and vitality.
Arctic Beringia is an environment in an unprecedented era of transition – it is one of the fastest changing places on earth. Rapid climate change, burgeoning industrial development, and profound social changes are altering the natural rhythms of the wildlife and indigenous communities that have called this place home for millennia. It is in this context that Wildlife Conservation Society seeks to implement effective conservation solutions that mitigate the impacts of climate change, transportation of people and products in and through the region, and site-based industrial activities.
These photos and links below are intended to provide a snapshot of our efforts with local partners on the ground in Arctic Beringia. We are also actively involved with the application of our field research in management and policy. For example, we help administer the Arctic Waterways Safety Committee, including chairing the science subcommittee, where outcomes from our research on shipping routes and noise are critical (arcticwaterways.org).