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

12:29 minutes

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.

Segment Guests

Lauren Sommer

Lauren Sommer is a science and environment reporter for KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, California.

Robert Rockwell

Robert Rockwell is a research associate at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, New York.

Meet the Producer

About Becky Fogel

Becky Fogel is a newscast host and producer at Texas Standard, a daily news show broadcast by KUT in Austin, Texas. She was formerly Science Friday’s production assistant.