ABSTRACT: American black bears frequently abandon their home ranges in late summer and move to feeding areas to fatten themselves for
hibernation. We examined seasonal movements of 206 radio-collared bears in north-central Minnesota during 1981–1990. We exploited
the variability in this long-term data set to test tradeoffs for animals leaving their home range. Late summer movements were
common for both sexes and all ages (39% of females, 44% of males), but were variable from year-to-year in prevalence, timing,
and destination. Bears typically left their summer home ranges in August and returned ~6weeks later in September or October.
Most traveled southward, where acorns were more plentiful (median = 10km for females, 26km for males; maximum = 168km).
These facultative migrations were most common when rich resources were available outside home ranges. Bears were least apt
to leave when foods were scarce in their home range, possibly sensing a risk of migrating during a widespread food failure.
Among females, those whose body mass was close to a reproductive threshold were most prone to migrate. Migrating bears were
less likely to be killed by hunters, suggesting that they were especially vigilant.
KeywordsCost/benefit trade-offs–Food abundance–Hunting mortality–Oak mast–Reproductive threshold–Seasonal movements
Behavioral Ecology and Sociobiology 05/2012; 65(4):823-835. · 3.18 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: Wildlife populations are difficult to monitor directly because of costs and logistical challenges associated with collecting informative abundance data from live animals. By contrast, data on harvested individuals (e.g., age and sex) are often readily available. Increasingly, integrated population models are used for natural resource management because they synthesize various relevant data into a single analysis.
We investigated the performance of integrated population models applied to black bears (Ursus americanus) in Minnesota, USA. Models were constructed using sex-specific age-at-harvest matrices (1980-2008), data on hunting effort and natural food supplies (which affects hunting success), and statewide mark-recapture estimates of abundance (1991, 1997, 2002). We compared this approach to Downing reconstruction, a commonly used population monitoring method that utilizes only age-at-harvest data. We first conducted a large-scale simulation study, in which our integrated models provided more accurate estimates of population trends than did Downing reconstruction. Estimates of trends were robust to various forms of model misspecification, including incorrectly specified cub and yearling survival parameters, age-related reporting biases in harvest data, and unmodeled temporal variability in survival and harvest rates. When applied to actual data on Minnesota black bears, the model predicted that harvest rates were negatively correlated with food availability and positively correlated with hunting effort, consistent with independent telemetry data. With no direct data on fertility, the model also correctly predicted 2-point cycles in cub production. Model-derived estimates of abundance for the most recent years provided a reasonable match to an empirical population estimate obtained after modeling efforts were completed.
Integrated population modeling provided a reasonable framework for synthesizing age-at-harvest data, periodic large-scale abundance estimates, and measured covariates thought to affect harvest rates of black bears in Minnesota. Collection and analysis of these data appear to form the basis of a robust and viable population monitoring program.
PLoS ONE 01/2010; 5(8):e12114. · 4.09 Impact Factor
ABSTRACT: To date, no other studies have examined the seasonal changes in circulating levels of various bile acids in the plasma of wild North American black bears, Ursus americanus. Using gas chromatography, bile acid concentrations were measured in plasma samples obtained during either early or late hibernation, and during summer active periods. Thus, specific compositional changes from individual animals were examined through a given year. Total bile acid concentrations in the plasma of these normal animals were found to range between 0.2 and 3.1 micromol/L (0.9 +/- 0.2 micromol/L, mean +/- SEM). Cholic, ursodeoxycholic and chenodeoxycholic acids were the major bile acid species identified. Ursodeoxycholic acid represented 28.0 +/- 2.6% of the total bile acid pool. Deoxycholic and lithocholic acids were found only in small amounts. In addition, total bile acid concentrations were lower in plasma samples obtained during hibernation compared with those obtained during summer active periods (0.6 +/- 0.1 and 1.2 +/- 0.4 micromol/L, respectively; p < 0.05). However, the relative proportion of ursodeoxycholic acid, was significantly greater in winter than in summer (31.5 +/- 3.2% and 22.2 +/- 4.5%, p < 0.05). Finally, taurine-conjugated bile acids were the predominant species in bear plasma, accounting for >67% of the total bile acids. These data demonstrate that ursodeoxycholic acid is a major bile acid in black bear plasma, mostly conjugated with taurine. Further, the finding of seasonal variation in plasma bile acid composition provides evidence to support the possible role that ursodeoxycholic acid may play in cellular protection in hibernating black bears.
Comparative Biochemistry and Physiology Part C Toxicology & Pharmacology 06/2006; 143(2):204-8. · 2.62 Impact Factor