ArticlePDF Available

Review of Gobi bear research (Ursus arctos gobiensis, Sokolov and Orlov, 1992)

Authors:

Abstract and Figures

Gobi bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis, Sokolov, Orlov, 1992) is endangered and occurs only in isolated populations in the Southwestern part of Mongolia. It is listed in the Red book of Mongolia (1987, 1997, 2013) and is registered in Annex I of the Convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES, 1991). Hunting for the Gobi bear is prohibited by law in 1953, nowadays it is protected in the Great Gobi reserve. The article provides generalized information about habitat, behavior, diet, and mortality of Gobi bear. The research also touched upon the peculiarities of its historical distribution in Gobi (and the subsequent loss of habitat), movement, size, and taxonomic status. Previous analysis of mitochondrial DNA (Galbreath et al., 2007; McCarthy et al., 2009) showed that Gobi bear is similar to the subspecies Ursus arctos Preliminary analysis based on nuclear microsatellite markers indicates that Gobi bear is actually can be a separate subspecies of Ursus arctos gobiensis (Tumendemberel et al., 2015а). The analysis of 2835 places of encounters of five bears using GPS for the period from 2005 to 2009 has allowed estimating that within the Great Gobi reserve for the habitat of the Gobi bear suitable territory is about 23619.18 km². The current habitat is likely reduced by 60% from historical range. Based on the telemetry data and the results of genetic analyses, the current distribution of bears in the Gobi desert was estimated. Adult females have moved around an area of about 514 km² within 1009–1532 m above sea level around Shar Khuls oasis. Adult males moved through the area about 2465–2485 km²; altitudinal limits of 1122–1492 m. International Team Project on Gobi bear, together with researchers from the Gobi bear Fund, Institute of General and Experimental biology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences and the administration of the Great Gobi reserve in 2005 have used camera traps to estimate population size of Gobi bear. It is established that on the reserve territory at least 18 bears were including 7 males, 4 females, and 2 calves (Amgalan et al., 2005). Using genetic analyses (DNA microsatellites) from more than 1000 hair samples taken near 14 springs, it was calculated that during 2008–2009, these springs were visited by 22–31 individuals of Gobi bear, of which at least 14 males and 8 females (Tumendemberel et al., 2015).
Content may be subject to copyright.
206
ISSN 2079-0961, Arid Ecosystems, 2016, Vol. 6, No. 3, pp. 206–212. © Pleiades Publishing, Ltd., 2016.
Review of Gobi Bear Research
(Ursus arctos gobiensis, Sokolov and Orlov, 1992)1
Amgalan Luvsamjambaa, Harry Reynoldsb, Adiya Yansanjava, Tuya Tserenbataac,
Bayasgalan Amgaland, and Odbayar Tumendemberelc
aInstitute of General and Experimental Biology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences, pr. Mira 54b, Ulaanbaatar, 210351 Mongolia
bInternational Gobi Bear Project Team, Fairbanks, PO Box 80843, AK 99708 United States
cEcosystem-Based Adaptation Approach to Maintaining Water Security in Critical Water Catchments in Mongolia,
202 ESC Center, Molodezhnaya av. 2B, Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
dMongolian Ministry of Environment, Green Development, Tourism,
ul. Ob”edinennykh Natsii 5/2, Ulaanbaatar, 151600 Mongolia
e-mail: adiya_ya@yahoo.com
Received September 26, 2015
Abstract—Gobi bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis, Sokolov, Orlov, 1992) is endangered and occurs only in isolated
populations in the Southwestern part of Mongolia. It is listed in the Red book of Mongolia (1987, 1997, 2013)
and is registered in Annex I of the Convention on international trade in endangered species (CITES, 1991).
Hunting for the Gobi bear is prohibited by law in 1953, nowadays it is protected in the Great Gobi reserve.
The article provides generalized information about habitat, behavior, diet, and mortality of Gobi bear. The
research also touched upon the peculiarities of its historical distribution in Gobi (and the subsequent loss of
habitat), movement, size, and taxonomic status. Previous analysis of mitochondrial DNA (Galbreath et al.,
2007; McCarthy et al., 2009) showed that Gobi bear is similar to the subspecies Ursus arctos Preliminary
analysis based on nuclear microsatellite markers indicates that Gobi bear is actually can be a separate subspe-
cies of Ursus arctos gobiensis (Tumendemberel et al., 2015а). The analysis of 2835 places of encounters of five
bears using GPS for the period from 2005 to 2009 has allowed estimating that within the Great Gobi reserve
for the habitat of the Gobi bear suitable territory is about 23619.18 km2. The current habitat is likely reduced
by 60% from historical range. Based on the telemetry data and the results of genetic analyses, the current dis-
tribution of bears in the Gobi desert was estimated. Adult females have moved around an area of about
514 km 2 within 1009–1532 m above sea level around Shar Khuls oasis. Adult males moved through the area
about 2465–2485 km2; altitudinal limits of 1122–1492 m. International Team Project on Gobi bear, together
with researchers from the Gobi bear Fund, Institute of General and Experimental biology, Mongolian Academy
of Sciences and the administration of the Great Gobi reserve in 2005 have used camera traps to estimate popu-
lation size of Gobi bear. It is established that on the reserve territory at least 18 bears were including 7 males,
4 females, and 2 calves (Amgalan et al., 2005). Using genetic analyses (DNA microsatellites) from more than
1000 hair samples taken near 14 springs, it was calculated that during 2008–2009, these springs were visited
by 22–31 individuals of Gobi bear, of which at least 14 males and 8 females (Tumendemberel et al., 2015).
Keywords: Mongolia, Gobi bear, the habitat, abundance, genetic analysis
DOI: 10.1134/S20790 96116030021
INTRODUCTION
The Gobi bear is Critically Endangered and is
found only in an isolated population within South-
western Mongolia. Due to these reasons, it was listed
in the Mongolian Red List of Mammals based on the
criteria of the International Union for Conservation of
Nature (IUCN) as the category of “threatened”
(Clark et al., 2006). Since the hunting was prohibited
by law in 1953 the habitat distribution area was pro-
tected when the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area
was established. Therefore Gobi bear was listed in the
Red Book of Mongolia (1987, 1997, 2013) of endan-
gered species and registered at the Appendix I of the
Convention of International Trade and Endangered
Species (CITIES..., 1991).
The researchers from the Institute of General and
Experimental Biology of Mongolian Academy of Sci-
ences started to collect information on Gobi bear dis-
tribution, ecology and biology in 1963. The researcher
Bold (1967) from the Institute published the first Gobi
bear paper entitled “Gobi bears and brown bears” with
the comparative analysis on morphological measure-
ments on Gobi bear and brown bears in Tibetan pla-
teau and Northern China. This paper also synthesized
1The article is published in the original.
ARID ECOSYSTEMS Vol. 6 No. 3 2016
REVIEW OF GOBI BEAR RESEARCH 207
information on Gobi bear habitat distribution, popu-
lation mortality, behavior, and diet. Research efforts
have focused on looking at the Gobi bears historical
distribution (and subsequent range contraction),
movements, population size, and taxonomic status.
To review the biology and historical distribution infor-
mation on bears in Asia, N.M. Przhewalskii found a
small bear’s skin which was misdiagnosed as a yeti’s
skin in a monastery while he was travelling around the
mountains in Gansu, Tsaidams in 1872. Russian sci-
entist Ladigin (1900), while collecting information on
geography and fauna in the area of Trans-Altai Gobi,
reported that there were bears in Mongolian Gobi des-
ert. The Institute of Sciences of Mongolian People’s
Republic sent field expedition groups to the Trans-
Altai Gobi area to collect the information on geogra-
phy, fauna and flora in 1927, 1935 and 1936 and col-
lected oral information from local people that there
were a few bears in areas near Tsagaan Bogd, and Edren
Ridge. In 1943 summer, Bannikov, Murzaev and Yuna-
tov first observed Gobi bears in the area near Tsagaan
Bogd mountain.
From the 1950s to 1960s, Eregdendagva (1954),
Shagdarsuren (1962), Khotolkhuu (1969), and a research
group including Professor Tsevegmid, Dementiev,
Shagdarsuren (1959–1960) found the signs of exis-
tence of Gobi bears including diggings, scats and
tracks in Tsagaan Bogd, Ekhiin Gol, Khatan Suudal,
Naransevstei, Atas-Inges, Aj Bogd and Edriin Ridge
although they did not see Gobi bears. In October
1960, Khotolkhuu and Gongor found the Gobi bears
tracks, diggings for wild rhubarb (Rheum nanun) and
scats in Khar Khairkhan, Maikhan Ridge and springs
in the Maikhan area (Shagdarsuren, 1962).
Beginning in the 1970s, Russian and Mongolian
joint expeditions collected data on Gobi fauna and flora
in the Trans-Altai Gobi. Research was focused on Gobi
bear distribution, habitat and ecology. The field excur-
sions between 1974–1976 by Bannikov, Sokolov,
Dulamtseren, Orlov, Khotolkhuu and Bazardorj were
instrumental in establishing and developing the Great
Gobi Strictly Protected Area (GGSPA) (Sokolov
et al., 1978, 1980). These efforts, organized by UNEP
project in 1980–1982, collected the information about
the population sizes of rare mammals, especially Gobi
bear distribution, population size, and ecological
information (Jirnov and Illyinkskii, 1985).
In order to protect the rare animals in Trans-Altai
Gobi, in 1975, the rangers from the newly established
GGSPA administration started their constant moni-
toring this environment by collecting more data on
Gobi bear habitat, distribution and population size
and published several scientific papers (Tulgat et al.,
1993; Badamhand et al., 1988; Bugaev et al., 1986).
Schaller (1993) worked with the rangers in the pro-
tected area between 1990 and 1992, and captured and
radio-collared 4 bears. The resulting telemetry studies
for helped to determine Gobi bear habitat distribution,
movement and diet. McCarthy (2000 and 2009)
worked with the rangers and published his work on
Gobi bear genetics.
The Mongolian Ministry of Nature and Environ-
ment and United Nations Development Program
funded the project “Conservation of the Great Gobi
Ecosystem and Its Umbrella Species” during 2003–
2007. The Gobi Bear Project including the researchers
from International Association for Bear Research and
Management (IBA), The Gobi Bear Fund, Institute of
General and Experimental Biology and GGSPA have
started the camera trapping, capture and collaring for
telemetry analysis to identify Gobi bear distribution,
movement, population structure, and genetics (Amgalan
et al., 2005 and 2006; Tserenbataa et al., 2006; Mijiddorj,
2006 and 2013; Reynolds et al., 2010 and 2015;
Tumendemberel et al., 2011, 2015a and 2015b). During
2005–2015, 20 individual bears were captured and
collared with satellite GPS collars (Reynolds et al.,
2015).
TAXONOMIC STATUS
Bannikov (1954) first observed Gobi bears and also
found a dead bear. Based on the morphological simi-
larities with Tibetan brown bears, he classified it as
Ursus pruinosus (Blyth, 1854); subsequently Mallon
(1985) and Jirnov and Illyunskii (1985) placed Tibetan
brown bears as (Ursus arctos pruinosus), a subspecies of
the brown bear.
Bold (1967) studied Gobi bear morphology and
skull characteristics and concluded that they were a
separate subspecies of brown bears which is adapted to
conditions in the Gobi Desert, based in part on the
observation that the teeth and skull sizes of Gobi bears
are smaller than brown bears of Tibet and northern
China.
In the late 1970s, Sokolov and Orlov (1980) also
noted that Gobi bear skull characteristics were differ-
ent than Tibetan brown bears and classified them as
Ursus arctos isabellinus. Subsequently, Sokolov and
Orlov (1992) concluded that Gobi bears should be
classified as a separate species, (Ursus gobiensis).
Schaller (1993) noted that Gobi bears are morpholog-
ically different than Tibetan brown bears but closer to
Himalayan brown bears since Atas mountain is a con-
tinuation of the mountain system of the Tenger moun-
tains. Although Gobi bears are similar to Himalayan
brown bears in morphology, some features such as
body shape and color, smaller skulls, and different
ecological habitats. Based on the reasons, our
researchers concluded that Gobi bear can be a differ-
ent species (Bold 1967; Dulamtseren, 2003).
Gobi bears are found in the GGSPA in desert habitat
where conifers do not occur in contrast, brown bears in
the Khentii, Khuvsgul and Mongol Altain Mountain
regions occur in areas where conifer trees are found
(Sokolov and Orlov, 1992; Dulamtseren, 2003).
208
ARID ECOSYSTEMS Vol. 6 No. 3 2016
LUV SAMJAMBA et a l.
The previous mtDNA analysis (Galbreath et al.,
2007; McCarthy et al., 2009) indicated that Gobi
bears are similar with the subspecies Ursus arctos isabelli-
nus. However the authors suggested that further genetics
sampling and analysis was necessary to clarify the taxo-
nomic status of Gobi bears. Preliminary analyses based
on nuclear microsatellite markers now indicate that Gobi
bears may actually be separate subspecies Ursus arctos
gobiensis (Tumendemberel et al. 2015b).
Based on 22 microsatellite data, the genetic diversity of
Gobi bears is less than most other brown bears populations
in the world (Tumendemberel et al., 2015a) (Table 1).
DISTRIBUTION AND MOVEMENT
The first half of 20th century, Gobi bear distribu-
tion was separated into two regions in south and north
by Tsenkher Govi which continues 50–100 km. But
the Gobi bear distribution in northern regions consist-
ing of Edren Ridge, Khatan Khairkhan mountain and
southern edge of Aj Bogd, Maikhan and Khar
Khairkhan had decreased gradually since 1940s and
the bears in the north area became extinct by the end
of 1960s because of anthropogenic influences such as
human occupation of their home ranges and overgraz-
ing (Sokolov and Orlov, 1992). Since 1940s, the big
oasis Zahui, Zarman and Ekhiin Gol began to be used
for agricultural purposes. During 1950s, many new
border stations and posts were established close to the
oasis in the Trans-Altai Gobi which expropriated the
main water points and springs in GGSPA from wild
animals such as Gobi bears (Ursus arctos gobiensis),
wild camel (Camelus bacterianus ferus), wild ass
(Equus hemionus) and gazelle (Gazella subgutturosa)
and influenced the Gobi bears and other wildlife spe-
cies abandon their former home ranges.
The researchers from the theriology laboratory in
the Institute of General and Experimental Biology
and Gobi Bear Project Team used the 2835 GPS loca-
tions from the five bears that were captured between
2005 and 2009 for the initial home range analysis using
the statistical programs including Minitab® 16.1.1,
Statistica 7.0 and GIS analysis programs such as DIVA
GIS, Arc-GIS 9.3, Arc-GIS 10.1. Using these analyt-
ical methods and based on data from the GIS loca-
tions, it was estimated that GGSPA has 23619.18 km2
suitable area for Gobi bears (Fig. 1) (Report..., 2014).
The altitude utilized by these Gobi bears varied
between 1300 and 2300 m (Mijiddorj, 2013).
Table 1. Genetic diversity of brown bears
Study area Heterozygosity (He) Alleles/locus
Pyrenees Mts., Spain 0.25 1.7
GOBI 0.29 1.9
Kodiak Island, Alaska,
United States
0.30 2.1
Pakistan 0.49 3.3
Yellows ton e,
United States
0.55 4.4
S. Selkirks, Canada 0.54 4.3
Scandinavia, Europe 0.66 5.8
Southern Canada 0.68 6.4
Northern Canada 0.78 7.4
Fig. 1. The Gobi bears’ historical and current distributions in Trans-Altai Gobi. 1—state border, 2—borders of the Great Gobi
reserve A, 3—the borders of other protected natural areas, 4—the present habitat of the Gobi bear (Mijiddorj, 2006), 5—the his-
torical range of the Gobi bear (Mijiddorj, 2006), 6—the range of the Gobi bear by Sokolov and Orlov (1980), 7—the range of the
Gobi bear by Bold (1967), 8—the range of the Gobi bear by Bannikov (1954), 9—encounter places with the Gobi bear by Ban-
nikov (1954).
N
WE
S
102°00 E
N
46°00
45°00
N
44°00
43°00
42°00
45°00
44°00
43°00
1 cm = 35 km
101°00100°0099°0098°0097°0096°0095°0094°0093°0092°00
102°00 E101°00100°0099°0098°0097°0096°0095°0094°00
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
93°00
ARID ECOSYSTEMS Vol. 6 No. 3 2016
REVIEW OF GOBI BEAR RESEARCH 209
Fig. 2. Past and present ranges of Gobi bear, 1954–2014, the results of simulations. 1—state border, 2—borders of the Great Gobi
reserve A, 3—the borders of other protected natural areas, 4—present potential range of Gobi bear, 5—last potential habitat of
Gobi bear, 6—last potential habitat of the Gobi bear outside the Great Gobi reserve.
102°00 E
N
46°00
45°00
N
44°00
43°00
42°00
45°00
44°00
43°00
1 cm = 35 km
101°00100°0099°0098°0097°0096°0095°0094°0093°0092°00
102°00 E101°00100°0099°0098°0097°0096°0095°0094°00
1
2
3
4
5
6
93°00
N
WE
S
Fig. 3. Male (а) and female (b) bears’ movement in spring
and summer 2009. 1—oases.
Tsagaan
bogd
3 males
3 males
1 males
Shar Khuls
Atas Inges
0
N
S
WE
50 100 200 km
Great Gobi “A” SPA
1
Historical Gobi distribution from Bold (1967),
Bannikov (1954), Jirnov, and Illyunskii (1985) and
other researchers, indicates that prior to 1950, the area
inhabited by Gobi bears at that time was about
33171.47 km2. Subsequently, Bold (1967) indicated
that distribution of Gobi bears was 15% lower. An
IUCN report (2014) indicated that distribution later
dropped to 50% of former levers, or 16500 km2 area
from IUCN (2014) report. However, this report
included areas such as Khar Valley, but this area likely
only used as a travel route since no habitat exists in the
area that would support Gobi bear nutritional require-
ments. If such areas are not included, current distribu-
tion has most likely decreased by 60% (20341.8 km2)
from the historical distribution (Fig. 2) (Report ...,
2014).
Using the telemetry data from the captured bears
and the results from genetics analysis, the current dis-
tribution of Gobi bears were analyzed. Based on the
242 GPS locations, an adult female used about 514 km2
area and 1009–1532 m above sea level around the Shar
Khuls oasis. However, male adult individuals inhabit
approximately 2465–2485 km2 area, altitude of 1122–
1492 m. The result is showing that male movement is
5 times greater than females (Report ..., 2014).
DNA genetic assessment of 22 individuals indi-
cated that movement by individuals between and
within oases complexes in Atas Inges, Shar Khuls and
Tsagaan Bogd also support the home range analysis of
telemetry data (Figs. 3a and 3b) (Tumendemberel
et al., 2015a).
Based on the 2835 GPS locations of five bears, the
potential geographic distribution calculated using
MaxEnt 3.3.3k indicates that there were differences in
seasonal distribution. From March to May, radio-col-
lared Gobi bears occupied a mean area of 9273.54 km2,
but during summer (June to August), the distribution
increased by 30.9% (2868.66 km2) until 12142.2 km2.
In autumn (September-November), it reduced by
13.8% (1276.2 km2) until 10 549.74 comparing spring
distributions (Report ..., 2014).
To calculate the home ranges for each bear using
MaxEnt design and MCP, Alaska, an adult male bear
used an area of 2356.49 km2 (95% CI mean: –896–
5609), the home range for Mother, an adult female bear
covered 3663.9 km2 (95% CI mean: –792.0–8120.2),
Sugsug 717.48 km2 (95% CI mean: –358.1–1793.1),
No Name 3298.91 km2 (95% CI mean: 658.8–5939.1),
210
ARID ECOSYSTEMS Vol. 6 No. 3 2016
LUV SAMJAMBA et a l.
Yokozuna 2972.06 km2 (95% CI mean: –40.8–5984.9)
respectively distributed in the GGSPA (Table 2).
The mean home range of male adults that were
analyzed was 5590 km2 and was dependent on the
bears age, sex and season of data collection (Report ...,
2014).
THE POPULATION SIZE
The population estimate was based on the observa-
tion data such as tracks, scat and direct observations
between 1960 and beginning of 2000. Based on tracks
on roads and near springs, Gobi bear population esti-
mates in the 1960s was 15–20 individuals (Bold, 1967),
around 20 in the 1970s (Bold and Dulamtseren, 1975),
20–25 individuals in the early 1980s (Bugaev and
Tumur, 1985), 25–30 individuals (Jirnov and Illyunskii,
1985), 20–30 individuals in 1990s (Shaller et al., 1993),
30–35 individuals (Tulgat, 1995) in the 1990s. Recent
estimations based on the observation data mentioned
that there are no less than 20 individual bears (МcCarty
et al., 2000; Batsaikhan et al., 2004; Luvsamjamba
et al., 2005; Mijiddorj, 2013).
The Gobi Bear Project Team including researchers
from the Gobi Bear Fund, the Mongolian Academy of
Sciences Institute of General and Experimental Biol-
ogy, and GGSPA administration started camera trap-
ping at each feeder close to springs in GGSPA in 2005.
Based camera trapping analysis on 409 pictures
showed that there are no less than 18 bears including
7 males, 4 females and 2 offspring (Amgalan et al.,
2005). Based on mark-recapture analysis using genetics
(DNA microsatellite) analysis from over than 1000 hair
samples collected from 14 springs used by Gobi bears esti-
mated that during 2008–2009, there were 22–31 individ-
uals (CI 95%), including a minimum of 14 males and
8 females (Tumendemberel et al., 2015a).
SUMMARY AND RECOMMENDATIONS
The national program for Gobi bear conservation
started in 2014 and the Mongolian Ministry of Envi-
ronment and Green Development established a work-
ing group to expand the biological and ecological
studies of Gobi bears, improve the habitat and work on
in situ and potentially ex situ conservation efforts to
help the Gobi bear population based on the best bio-
logical information available, and according to IUCN
standards.
Lately the trend of anthropogenic influences is
increasing because of many licenses for mining in
adjacent protected area in Umnugovi province and the
number of illegal miners, travelers and locals in the
GGSPA. Therefore due to the human population
increase, the number of livestock and encroachment into
the buffer zone area of the GGSPA, and avoidance by
Gobi bears to increased human activities, the Gobi bear
population could easily experience increased threats to
their already reduced occupied area which they can
safely inhabit.
To contribute to the effective conservation for the
species, efforts should focus on achieving recovery of
the population to reach its historical distribution. A
scientific assessment of strategies that should be fol-
lowed for population recovery jointly agreed to by
IBA, the world-wide professional organization of bear
biologists, and the Mongolian ministry of environ-
ment and green development (International Associa-
tion for Bear Research and Management, 2015) the
agreement focused on the importance of improving
carrying capacity for Gobi bears and to minimizing
Table 2. Home ranges for each individual bears
Method (Habitat)
Bear name
Alaska Mother Sugsug Unknown Yokozuna
MCP 2698.47 3405.37 554.59 3331.25 3176.13
Spring (mcp) 21.16 149.88 454.53 2096.73 1896.6
Summer (mcp) 2641.84 3311.51 357.05 3106.41 2298.49
Autumn (mcp) 21.78 1823.28 0 1180.7 526.95
MaxEnt 6399.22 9629.88 2221.23 6779.5 6962.13
Mean 2356.494 3663.984 717.48 3298.918 2972.06
St. dev 2619 3589 866.3 2126 2426
P-Value 0.384 0.184 0.039 0.28 0.269
Mean ± SE 1185. 0
3527.96
2058.9
5268.9
330.1
110 4 . 8
2348.0
4249.8
1886.9
4057.2
Mean ± SD –262.98
4975.97
75.10
7252.8
–140.78
1583. 74
1172.6
5425.22
545.5
5398.5
ARID ECOSYSTEMS Vol. 6 No. 3 2016
REVIEW OF GOBI BEAR RESEARCH 211
risk by any actions that might affect the in-situ popula-
tion. In order to reach this goal, it will be necessary to
work to establish the protected area system between two
countries, Mongolia and China and support and
expand multilateral biological and ecological researches
in diet analysis for nutritional adequacy. Gaining an
improved understanding of the biological and anthro-
pogenic factors that limit the population, as well as
increasing knowledge of population dynamics, critical
habitat characteristics, structure and breeding ability,
genetic features, monthly and seasonal distribution,
movements and habitat use will be important to
implement.
There is the need for collaboration with the local
residents and herders in the buffer zone area of
GGSPA and border stations to build capacity for the
local residents communities for environmental protec-
tion and education programs and conservation of
endemic wildlife species. It is also important to con-
duct regular monitoring in the regions where the Gobi
bears are distributed and support the implementation
of national conservation authorities, improve capacity
of the protected area administration and activate the
National program for Gobi bear conservation actions.
REFERENCES
Amgalan, L., Ganbold, D., Reynolds, H.V., Craighead, D.J.,
Tserenbataa, T., and Batmunkh, M., Using digital remote
cameras to assess minimum population size of the criti-
cally endangered Gobi bear population in Mongolia,
Proc. 17th Int. Conf. on Bear Research and Management,
Nagano, Japan, 2006, p. 275.
Amgalan, L., Mijiddorj, B., Batsaikhan, N., Tsendjav, D.,
and Boldbaatar, Sh., The current status of Gobi bears
(Ursus gobiensis Sokolov and Orlov, 1990), J. Inst. Biol.,
Acad. Sci. Mongol., 2005, vol. 25, pp. 65–69.
Badamkhand, J., Mazaalai, Unen, 1988, no. 242, pp. 2–3.
Bannikov, A.G., Mlekopitayushchie Mongol’skoi Narodnoi
Resoubliki (Mammals of the Mongolia People’s Repub-
lic), Moscow: Akad. Nauk SSSR, 1954.
Batsaikhan, N., Mijiddorj, B., Shagdarsuren, B., and
Amgalan, L., Survey of Gobi bear (Ursus arctos gobien-
sis) in Great Gobi “A” strictly protected area in 200 4,
Mongol. J. Biol. Sci., 2004, vol. 2, pp. 55–60.
Bazardorzhi, D., An investigation of the mazaalai (Ursus
pruinosus) of Mongolia, Nauch. Soob Mongol. Gos.
Univ., 1972, vol. 30, pp. 59–63.
Blyth, E., Report of Zoological curator of September meet-
ing, J. Asiatic Soc., Bengal, 1854, no. 22, pp. 589–594.
Bold, A., Mongolian brown bear and mazaalai, J. Inst.
Biol., Acad. Sci. Mongol., 1967, no. 2, pp. 5–50.
Bold, A. and Dulantseren, S., Rare and very rare mammals
and birds in Mongolian People’s Republic, J. Inst.
Biol., Acad. Sci. Mongol., 1975, no. 2, pp. 50–56.
Bugaev, K.E. and Tumur, Ch., Mazaalai, J. Inst. Biol.,
Acad. Sci. Mongol., 1986, no. 17, pp. 33–38.
CITES Appendix, Convention of International Trade and
Endangered Species, Ulaanbaatar, 1991.
Clark, E.L., Munkhbat, J., Dulamtseren, S., Baillie, J.S.M.,
Batsaikhan, N., King, S.R.B., Samiya, R. and Stubbe, M.,
Summary conservation action plan for Mongolian mam-
mals, Regions Red List Series, London: Zool. Soc.
Lond., 2006, vol. 2, pp. 112–114. http://static.zsl.org/
files/mongolianactionplan-mammals-699.pdf.
Dulamtseren, S., Opredelitel’ mlekopitayushchikh Mongolii
(Guide for Identification of Mammals in Mongolia),
Ulaanbaatar: Bembi San, 1970.
Dulamtseren, S., Classification of mammals and its Mon-
golian nomenclatures, State Nomenclature News, 2003,
vol. 148, p. 26.
Eregdendagva, D., Rare animals of Western Mongolia,
Nature, 1954, no. 2.
Galbreath, G.J., Groves, C.P., and Waits, L.P., Genetic
resolution of composition and phylogenetic placement
of the Isabelline bear, Ursus, 2007, vol. 18, no. 1,
pp. 129–131.
International Association for Bear Research and Management,
IBA Letters and Statements: IBA Letter to Mongolian Gov-
ernment Regarding Strategies for Conservation of the Gobi
Bear (Mazaalai) and the Response by the Mongolian Gov-
ernment to the IBA Letter Regarding Gobi Bear Strategies
for Conservation of the Gobi Bear (Mazaalai), 2015.
http://www.bearbiology.com/index.php?id=letts.
IUCN, Guidelines for Application of IUCN Red List Criteria
at Regional and National Levels, Version 4.0, IUCN Spe-
cies Survival Commission, Gland, Switzerland: World
Conserv. Union, 2012.
Khotolkhuu, N., Rare findings, Mongol. Acad. Sci. J., 1969,
no. 4, pp. 40–46.
Khotolkhuu, N., Shagdarsuren, O., and Dovchin, N., Note
about Gobi mammals in Zuun gar Gobi in Mongolian
People’s Republic, J. Inst. Biol., Acad. Sci. Mongol.,
1972, no. 6, pp. 35–39.
Ladygin, V.F., Crossing the Gobi desert from Dala-Turu to
Su-Zhou, Bull. Russ. Geogr. Soc., 1900, vol. 36, no. 2,
pp. 169–197.
Mallon, D.P., The mammals of the Mongolian People’s
Republic, Mamm. Rev., 1985, vol. 15, no. 2, pp. 71–102.
McCarthy, T.M., Ecology and conservation of snow leop-
ards, Gobi brown bears, and wild Bactrian camels in
Mongolia, PhD Thesis, Amherst, MA: Univ. of Massa-
chusetts Amherst, 2000.
McCarthy, T.M., Waits, L.P., and Batmunkh, M., Status of
the Gobi bear in Mongolia as determined by noninva-
sive genetic methods, Ursus, 2009, vol. 20, no. 1,
pp. 30–38.
Mijiddorj, B., Some features of biology and ecology of the
Gobi bear (Ursus gobiensis) and its conservation, PhD
Thesis, Ulaanbaatar, 2006.
Mijiddorj, B., Gobi Bear—Mazaalai, Ulaanbaatar: Admon
Print, 2013.
Mongolian Rare and Significant Species for Biocenosis: A
Report, Ulaanbaatar: Theriol. Ecol. Lab., Inst. Gen.
Exp. Biol., 2014.
Mongolian Red Book, Shiirevdamba, Ts., Ed., Ulaanbaatar:
Admon Print, 1987.
Mongolian Red Book, Shiirevdamba, Ts., Ed., Ulaanbaatar:
Admon Print, 1997.
212
ARID ECOSYSTEMS Vol. 6 No. 3 2016
LUV SAMJAMBA et a l.
Mongolian Red Book, Shiirevdamba, Ts., Ed., Ulaanbaatar:
Admon Print, 2013.
Report of the Theriology and Ecology Laboratory, Institute of
General and Experimental Biology Mongolian Rare and
Significant Species for Biocenose,” 2014.
Reynolds, H., Amgalan, L., Tumendemberel, O., Amgalan, B.,
Chadwick, D., Proctor, M., and Mijiddorj, B., Gobi Bear
Conservation in Mongolia, Ulaanbaatar: Inst. Gen. Exp.
Biol., Acad. Sci. Mongol., 2015.
Reynolds, H., Craighead, D., Proctor, M., Luvsanjamba, A.,
and Batmunkh, M., Gobi Bear Conservation in Mongo-
lia, Gobi Bear Project Team Report, Ulaanbaatar, 2010.
Schaller, G., Tulgat, R., and Naranstastralt, B., Observa-
tions on the Gobi brown bear in Mongolia, Proc. Sixth
Conf. of Specialists Studying Bears “Bears of Russia and
Adjacent Countries—State of Populations,” Central Forest
Reserve, Tver’ Oblast, Russia, 1993, vol. 2, pp. 110–125.
Shagdarsuren, O., About mammals in Trans-Altai Gobi,
Mongol. Acad. Sci. J., 1962, no. 1, pp. 51–59.
Sokolov, V.E., Dulamtseren, S., Khotolkhu, N., and
Orlov, V.N., Rare species of hoofed in Great Gobi
Nature Reserve (Mongolia): modern status and pros-
pects, in Geografiya i dinamika rastitel’nogo i zhivotnogo
mira Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki (Geography and
Dynamics of Flora and Fauna of the Mongolia People’s
Republic), Moscow: Nauka, 1978, vol. 10, pp. 112–124.
Sokolov, V.E., Dulamtseren, S., Orlov, V.N., and Kho-
tolkhuu, N., The current state and the protection of
odd-toed mammals in Great Gobi reserve, Probl. Des-
erts Dev., 1980, no. 5, pp. 79–87.
Sokolov, V.E. and Orlov, V.N., Opredelitel’ mlekopitayush-
chikh Mongol’skoi Narodnoi Respubliki (Guide for Iden-
tification of Mammals of the Mongolia People’s
Republic), Moscow: Nauka, 1980.
Sokolov, V.E. and Orlov, V N., A new species of present
bears—Ursus gobiensis sp. n.—mazaalai or Gobi bear,
Int. Symp. Erforschung Biologischer Ressourcen der Mon-
golei in Deutschland, Halle, 1992.
Tserenbataa, T., Waits, L., Reynolds, H., Craighead, D.J.,
Luvsanjamba, A., and Batmunkh, M., Genetic analysis
of the taxonomic status of the Gobi bear, Proc. 17th Int.
Conf. on Bear Research and Management, Nagano,
Japan, 2006.
Tsevegmid, D., To save the rarest animal of the world fauna,
Nature, 1959, no. 5.
Tse ve gmid, D., About Trans-Altai Gobi, Ulaanbaatar, 1963.
Tulgat, R., Mortality and conservation issues for the unique
rare species, mazaalai, Proc. Conf. “State Protected
Areas Administration” Ulaanbaatar, 1993, pp. 12–16.
Tumendemberel, O., Proctor, M., Reynolds, H., Bou-
langer, J., Luvsandambaa, A., Tserenbataa, T., Yanjin, N.,
Craighead, D., and Paetkau, D., Gobi bear abundance
and movement survey, Gobi desert, Mongolia, Ursus,
2015a, vol. 26, no. 2, pp. 129–142.
Tumendemberel, O., Proctor, M., Reynolds, H., Luvsam-
jamba, A., Tserenbataa, Ts., Yanjin, N., Craighead, D.,
and Paetkau, D., Gobi bear population estimate using
genetic analysis, Hureltogoot, 2011, pp. 93–104.
Tumendemberel, O., Proctor, M., Reynolds, H., Tumen-
nasan, Kh., Tserenbataa, T., and Waits, L., The Report
of the Genetics Laboratory of Institute of General and
Experimental Biology, Ulaanbaatar, 2015b.
Zhirnov, L.V. and Il’inskii, V.O., Bol’shoi Gobiiskii zapoved-
nik-ubezhishche redkikh zhivotnykh pustyn’ Tsentral’noi
Azii (The Great Gobi Nature Reserve as the Shelter for
Rare Animals of Central Asian Steppes), Moscow:
Gos. Kom. Nauke Tekh., 1985.
... Large size not only conveys energetic efficiencies, but also comparative invulnerability to most-but not all-predation. Substantial absolute and comparative reserves of body fat furthermore allow grizzlies to survive the vicissitudes of annually variable environments better than most other large mammals (Millar & Hickling 1990)-which facilitates occupancy of and extraction of foods from widely varied environments subject to extreme weather, including the Gobi Desert (Luvsamjamba et al. 2016), Tibetan Plateau (Ai-Chun et al. 2006), and Himalayas (Aryal et al. 2012). ...
Technical Report
Full-text available
For perhaps 30,000 years grizzly bears ranged throughout the mountains and riparian areas of what would eventually become the southwestern United States. But in a remarkably short 50-year period between 1860 and 1910 Anglo-Americans killed roughly 90% of the grizzly bears in 90% of the places they once lived. Most of the remaining grizzlies had been killed by the 1930s. This report provides a detailed account of natural history, relations with humans, and current and future prospects for grizzly bears of the Southwest, emphasizing the millennia prior to ascendance of Anglo-Americans. The report’s narrative is essentially chronological, starting with deep history spanning the late Pleistocene up through arrival of European colonists (Section 3.1); the period of Spanish and Mexican dominance (Section 3.2); and then the period of terminal grizzly bear extirpations that began with the political and military dominance of Anglo-Americans (Section 3.3). Section 4 examines current environmental conditions and related prospects for restoring grizzly bears to the Southwest. Section 5 completes the chronological arc by forecasting some of what the future might hold, with implications for both grizzly bears and humans. The background provided in Section 2 offers a synopsis of grizzly bear natural history as well as a summary of foods and habitats that were likely important to grizzlies. Throughout the Holocene there was a remarkable concentration of diverse high-quality bear foods in highlands of the Southwest, notably in an arc from the San Francisco Peaks of Arizona southeast along the Coconino Plateau and Mogollon Rim to a terminus in the White, Mogollon, and Black Range Mountains in New Mexico. Additional high-quality habitat existed in the Sacramento, San Juan, Jemez, and Sangre de Cristo Mountains of New Mexico and adjacent Colorado. Grizzlies in the Southwest survived remarkable extremes of climate and habitats for perhaps as long as 100,000 years. They also survived substantial variation in human-propagated impacts that culminated in the Crisis of 875-1425 C.E.—a period typified by episodic drought and the highest human population densities prior to recent times. In contrast to relatively benevolent attitudes among indigenous populations, there is little doubt that the terminal toll taken on grizzly bears by Anglo-Americans after 1850 C.E was driven largely by a uniquely lethal combination of intolerance and ecological dynamics entrained by the eradication or diminishment of native foods and the substitution of human foods, notably livestock, that catalyzed conflict. More positively, the analysis presented here of current habitat productivity, fragmentation, and remoteness—as well as regulations, laws, and human attitudes—reveals ample potential for restoration of grizzlies to the Southwest, including three candidate Restoration Area Complexes: the Mogollon, San Juan, and Sangre de Cristo, capable of supporting around 620, 425, and 280 grizzlies each. Major foreseeable challenges for those wishing to restore grizzly bears to these areas include sanitation of human facilities, management of livestock depredation, education of big game hunters, coordination of management, and fostering of accommodation among rural residents. Climate change promises to compound all of these challenges, although offset to an uncertain extent by prospective increases in human tolerance. But the evolutionary history of grizzly bears also provides grounds for optimism about prospective restoration. Grizzly bears have survived enormous environmental variation spanning hundreds of thousands of years, including many millennia in the Southwest. Grizzlies survived not only the inhospitable deeps of the Ice Ages in Asia and Beringia, but also the heat and drought of the Altithermal on this continent. It was only highly-lethal Anglo-Americans that drove them to extinction in the Southwest, which is why human attitudes—more than anything else—will likely determine prospects for restoring grizzly bears.
... Radio-collared bears were used to generate population estimates for sloth bears in Nepal (Garshelis et al., 1999), aided in visually-identifying brown bears in Pakistan (Nawaz et al., 2008), and were used to help assess the distribution of brown bears in the Gobi (Luvsamjamba et al., 2016). We found just two studies that used collared and other individually-identifiable bears to estimate reproductive and survival rates that were employed in a matrix model to estimate the rate of population change (brown bears in Pakistan and Japan (Nawaz et al., 2008;Kohira et al., 2009)). ...
Article
Full-text available
Many wildlife species are threatened in Asia, including the five species of terrestrial bears (Asiatic black, Ursus thibetanus; brown, U. arctos; sloth, Melursus ursinus; sun, Helarctos malayanus; giant panda, Ailuropoda melanoleuca): many populations of these bears are thought to be declining or imperiled by small population size. Here our aim is to document how population assessments have been conducted for bears in Asia. We searched the literature and identified 102 studies published during 1999–2021 that investigated the status of an Asian bear population; these occurred in 24 of the 32 bear range countries in Asia. At the most basic level, 11% of studies verified presence of bears in places where they were not known to exist. The most common objective (53% of papers) was a distribution map, often derived from presence locations in a habitat-based model. Occupancy studies (15%) used temporal (time stamps on images from cameras) or spatial (transect segments) replicates, but tended to focus on “use”, so detector spacing was sometimes not appropriate for occupancy. Purported population indices, such as sign density or camera trap encounter rates, were reported in 16% of studies. One third of studies provided a population estimate, but only 10 studies in two decades used a rigorous method (e.g., mark–recapture). Sign surveys and interviews were the most common methods for determining bear presence, and local interviews were heavily relied upon for assessing population trend. Camera trapping has become increasingly prevalent, but only one study obtained a population estimate using photographs to distinguish natural individual markings. Only three studies used hair traps to obtain DNA-based population estimates, and three other studies obtained population estimates from DNA in scats. Just three studies quantitatively measured change in population size or occupancy over time, and none of these showed a decline. Unique rangewide sign surveys of giant pandas showed significant geographic expansion. The opinions of experts and local people, now heavily relied upon for population assessments, are not reliable or sensitive enough for monitoring. Quantitative population assessments are desirable to direct conservation actions toward the most perilous situations, and provide a means to gauge the effectiveness of conservation actions. This paper demonstrates the paucity of rigorous monitoring of Asian bears, and leads off a series of papers that propose improved methods for assessing distribution, occupancy, and density.
... The Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area "A" (hereafter GGSPAA,˜43.2420°N, 97.4381°E) v www.esajournals.org 2 August 2021 v Volume 12(8) v Article e03696 encompasses 46,369 km 2 in the southwestern Mongolia (Fig. 1). The brown bear population is restricted to˜23,600 km² in areas with close proximity to water sources (Reynolds et al. 2010, Luvsamjamba et al. 2016, and the population is isolated from other populations by inhospitable low elevation deserts, pastoral activities, and human settlements. The area contains wide open plains interspersed with three mountain ranges, Atas Inges, Shar Khuls, and Tsagaan Bogd. ...
Article
Full-text available
Information about population demography is crucial for developing and implementing conservation measures. The brown bear in the Gobi desert of southwestern Mongolia (referred to as the Gobi bear) is one of the smallest and most isolated brown bear populations in the world. We conducted genetic sampling (n = 2660 samples collected) using hair corrals around feeding sites at 13 water sources during 2009, 2013, and 2017 to evaluate population size, survival, and population trend. Bears were identified using 13 microsatellite loci and one sex marker. We detected 51 unique individuals (15F and 36M) from our targeted surveys in 2009, 2013, and 2017. Based on capture-mark-recapture robust design, population estimates were 23 (95% CI: 21-32) in 2009, 28 (95% CI: 25-35) in 2013, and 31 (95% CI: 29-38) individuals in 2017. Spatial capture-recapture analysis suggested abundance was very low (N = 27; 95% CI: 22-35), and there was no significant change from 2009 to 2017. The population density was 0.93 bears/1000 km 2 (95% CI: 0.74-1.17). Our population estimates suggested a stable population trend. However, the population is still very small, and the sex ratio is skewed toward males, raising concerns for future persistence. Annual survival based on Robust design CMR was 0.85. Low abundance and apparent survival for both sexes in this unhunted population coupled with a skewed sex ratio highlight the need for on-the-ground conservation action to conserve this isolated population of bears.
... Where food is locally abundant, such as salmon in Kamchatka, bears are more tolerant of each other, maintain smaller home ranges (6-15 km²), and occur in high population densities (Seryodkin et al. 2017a). At the other extreme, home ranges span up to 2400 km² in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia, where forage is extremely sparse and widely interspersed and bears travel large distances between oases to find food and mating opportunities (Luvsamjamba et al. 2016). Brown bears in Europe maintain average home range sizes ranging from 160-640 km² in the Scandinavian boreal forest (Hertel et al. 2019b), to 58-362 km 2 in Greece (Mertzanis et al. 2011), and to 14-83 km² in mixed evergreen coniferous forest and oak stands in Turkey (Ambarlı 2012). ...
Chapter
Bears have fascinated people since ancient times. The relationship between bears and humans dates back thousands of years, during which time we have also competed with bears for shelter and food. In modern times, bears have come under pressure through encroachment on their habitats, climate change, and illegal trade in their body parts, including the Asian bear bile market. The IUCN lists six bears as vulnerable or endangered, and even the least concern species, such as the brown bear, are at risk of extirpation in certain countries. The poaching and international trade of these most threatened populations are prohibited, but still ongoing. Covering all bears species worldwide, this beautifully illustrated volume brings together the contributions of 200 international bear experts on the ecology, conservation status, and management of the Ursidae family. It reveals the fascinating long history of interactions between humans and bears and the threats affecting these charismatic species.
... Plasticity in habitat selection (e.g. McLoughlin et al. 2002;Luvsamjamba et al. 2016) and diet (Vulla et al. 2009;Bojarska and Selva 2012), as well as good mobility, means that the habitat use of brown bears during the active period is less restricted compared with specialist species. Identifying partial habitats, which are crucial for particular activities (e.g. ...
Article
Protected areas are often designed with conservation focus on rare species. However, provision of essential areas for other species is crucial for maintenance of overall biodiversity. The brown bear (Ursus arctos), throughout most of its present distribution area, helps to maintain diverse ecosystems through trophic effects. As with other hibernating mammals, undisturbed wintering areas are a highly important resource for bears. In lowland areas containing intensively managed forests, undisturbed winter dens might largely be confined to protected areas. Here, we assess the importance of protected areas for bear winter denning in a forested landscape. We employed maximum entropy modelling and data of 80 bear winter den locations in a 39,000 km² area of mainland Estonia to evaluate areas suitable for winter denning. We compared the amount of highly suitable wintering areas (suitability index > 0.6) in 22 protected areas with two ring buffers around these areas to assess the relative importance of adjoining areas for bear wintering. The proportion of highly suitable wintering area was significantly lower in protected areas than in nearby ring buffers. Therefore, our results demonstrate that protected areas do not provide much conservation support for denning brown bears, and we recommend focussing attention on managed forests to meet conservation objectives. The results reveal the importance of larger forest areas for brown bear wintering in lowland to avoid constant disturbance.
Article
Full-text available
The Gobi Desert, Asia’s largest desert, covers roughly 1,300,000 square kilometers across southern Mongolia and northern China. One of the world’s most iconic deserts, the Gobi is a functioning, healthy ecosystem home to spectacular landscapes that support an impressive variety of biological diversity, including many rare and endangered species. Human activity in the Gobi has existed for at least 5,000 years and several culturally and historically significant archeological sites have been documented in the region; the Gobi continues to support an ancient and enduring nomadic lifestyle. Prehistoric traces of ancient life are also widespread, making the Gobi a hotspot for fossil discoveries. Despite a wealth of natural and cultural heritage the Gobi Desert in Mongolia lacks any recognition as UNESCO World Heritage. This article explores the natural and cultural heritage of the Gobi Desert in Mongolia and using UNESCO’s framework for “Outstanding Universal Value”, identifies several sites with exceptional geological, ecological, and ethnological features that we believe meet the criteria for World Heritage status. In the face of looming threats from human interference and climate change, increased recognition and appreciation of Gobi Desert landscapes is crucial to ensure the long-term protection of these irreplaceable sources of life and inspiration.
Article
The Mongolian marmot (Marmota sibirica) is a relatively large-bodied, social rodent that lives in colonies across the Mongolian steppes and parts of China and Russia. Marmots serve as ecosystem engineers that display multiple functions on the steppe environments they inhabit. Mongolian marmots experienced a >75% decline across Mongolia in the 1990s that led their listing as endangered globally. The decline of marmots likely affected other species given their importance to the ecosystems. To examine the role of marmots on vertebrate species, we set camera traps on and off marmot colony sites in the forest-steppe, steppe, and semi-desert zones of Mongolia. In total, we recorded 39 vertebrate species within 3 study areas, including 19 species in 2012 in Ikh Nart NR; 21 in 2016 in Hustai NP; and 27 in the Halzan region of Sukhbaatar in 2019. Species abundance and some diversity indices were significantly higher on colonies compared to off colony sites. Our research provides insights into how marmots create important habitats for associated fauna and demonstrates that this engineering species plays an irreplaceable role in this ecosystem. We hope that this and similar experimental approaches will allow us to better understand the biodiversity patterns in and around marmot burrows.
Article
Full-text available
Ephedra equisetina, the Nitraria species complex (N. sibirica, N. roborowskii and N. sphaerocarpa), and Rheum nanum are the main dietary plants of the Gobi Bear (Ursus arctos gobiensis), a subspecies of the brown bear, found in the Gobi desert of Mongolia. Their location and distribution range are closely related to the Gobi Bear survival. Analyzing the impact of climate change on the possible distribution of these species is essential for the future conservation and management of the Gobi Bear. In this study, we modeled the current and future distribution of the main dietary plants of the Gobi Bear based on one representative concentration pathway (RCP2.6) for the period from 2041 to 2060 (2050s) and 2061-2080 (2070s) using a maximum entropy (MaxEnt) species distribution model. Our results showed that the precipitation-associated variables had the strongest effect on the distributions of these species. Among these variables, the precipitation of the coldest quarter (Bio19) was the most important variable affecting the suitability of the habitats. Under the current climate conditions, the areas of the highly suitable (>0.6) habitat for E. equisetina, the Nitraria species complex, and R. nanum were 3,888.51, 23,727.78 and 13,816.88 km², respectively, accounting for 8%, 52% and 30% of the Great Gobi “A” Strictly Protected Area. In the year 2050s and 2070s, the highly suitable habitat areas for E. equisetina and R. nanum will continue to increase and eventually reach to 23% and 36%, respectively. The Nitraria species complex would first be reduced to 33% in the 2050s and then increase to 36% in the 2070s. With the climate warming, the highly suitable habitats of the Gobi Bear's main dietary plants would shift to the southeast. These results, together with previous studies about the Gobi Bear distribution can provide useful information and a reasonable reference for managers to put forward suggestions for better protection of the Gobi Bear.
Article
Full-text available
Iran is a vast country, more than half of which is covered with mountains inhabited by brown bears. The two great mountain ranges in Iran are the Zagros Mountains in the west and the Alborz Mountains in the north. Despite this availability of habitat, brown bears in Iran face serious threats, including: 1) lack of adequate management and conservation programs by Iran Department of the Environment (DoE), which is the responsible governmental organization; 2) lack of funding and necessary tools, such as camera traps, Global Positioning System (GPS) collars, VHF collars etc., to conduct research; 3) seeming lack of interest to conduct bear surveys by international scientists, universities, and other organizations; 4) current research by international organizations being concentrated on the Asiatic cheetah and Persian leopard, thus attracting most Iranian researchers to these two species; 5) increasing conflict between local people and bears; and 6) poaching.
Article
Full-text available
Brown bears (Ursus arctos) inhabit much of the northern hemisphere, including portions of North America, Europe, and Asia. Whereas northern populations generally are healthy, their distribution becomes fragmented and conservation status more tenuous in their southern range. Many fragmented populations across southern Asia are poorly understood, and abundance and distribution data are minimal. One such population contains the Gobi bear, a brown bear surviving in the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area of southwestern Mongolia. The number of bears in this area was assumed to be low, without data-based abundance estimates. Whereas bears frequent 3 oases complexes, it was not known to what extent bears moved or bred among these complexes, which span approximately 300 km. As part of a larger science-based conservation effort, we conducted a DNA-based mark–recapture population survey in 2009 to estimate abundance, inter-oases movements of individual bears and geneflow, and genetic variability. We placed barb-wire hair-collection sites surrounding 13 supplemental feeders at most water sources within the 3 oases complexes: Atas–Inges, Shar Khuls, and Tsagaan Bogd. During 5 sessions throughout spring and summer, we collected 600 bear hair samples and genotyped 205 samples at 12 variable microsatellite loci (from 24). We identified 21 individual bears (14 M and 7 F) 48 times and developed a mark–recapture population estimate of 22 bears (95% CI 5 21–29). Estimates of mean detection probability were 0.27 (SE 5 0.09, CI 5 0.13–0.49) and 0.51 (SE 5 0.063, CI 5 0.39–0.64) for female and male bears, respectively. One female and 4 males were sampled at 2 oases complexes and 3 males were sampled at all 3 oases complexes. The genetic variability (heterozygosity) was low compared with other brown bear populations. We suggest this population is isolated from other bear populations and is likely critically endangered with fewer than 40 individuals.
Article
Full-text available
The mammals of the Mongolian People's Republic are reviewed, their current status and distribution are summarized and distribution maps are provided.
Article
A relict population of unique desert dwelling brown bears (Ursus arctos) inhabits a series of remote oases along the southern portion of the Great Gobi Strictly Protected Area in Mongolia. Little is known about these bears, which may number as few as 25 animals. We used noninvasive genetic techniques in an attempt to estimate minimum population size, determine sex ratios, and evaluate genetic diversity and degree of isolation between population centers. Between 1996 and 1998 we collected 200 hair samples using hair-traps from rub posts and attempted to amplify 6 microsatellite loci for 75 samples with 3 or more follicles. Microsatellite amplification rates were low (63%), and 3 loci were monomorphic. Complete genotypes could be obtained for only 28 samples, which provided a minimum count of 8 bears. Observed heterozygosity (0.29) and average number of alleles (2) were very low compared to other brown bear populations. Genetic data were obtained for only 2 of the 3 population centers, and sample sizes were not large enough to accurately evaluate sex ratio or levels of isolation. A 263 base-pair segment of the mitochondrial DNA control region was sequenced for 3 bears and a single control region haplotype was obtained. This haplotype was identical to a previously published haplotype for the Gobi bear, and earlier work has shown that this haplotype is closely related to brown bear haplotypes from Pakistan. Future genetic analyses that attempt to use hair or fecal samples will need to increase the number of loci to provide sufficient resolving power for individual identification and should attempt to collect fresher samples to increase success rates. The detection of very low levels of genetic diversity supports the hypothesis that this population is very small and isolated from other brown bear populations. Further studies of the Gobi bear and conservative management actions are greatly needed.
Article
We sequenced part of the mitochondrial control region of 2 Himalayan Ursus arctos isabellinus individuals and compared it with that of other U. arctos. Results indicate that the valid allopatric subspecies U. a. isabellinus represents an ancient clade and includes the Gobi bear of Mongolia as a relict population.
Rare and very rare mammals and birds in Mongolian People’s Republic
  • A Bold
  • S Dulantseren
  • A. Bold
Bold, A. and Dulantseren, S., Rare and very rare mammals and birds in Mongolian People's Republic, J. Inst. Biol., Acad. Sci. Mongol., 1975, no. 2, pp. 50-56.
Some features of biology and ecology of the Gobi bear (Ursus gobiensis) and its conservation
  • B Mijiddorj
  • B. Mijiddorj
Mijiddorj, B., Some features of biology and ecology of the Gobi bear (Ursus gobiensis) and its conservation, PhD Thesis, Ulaanbaatar, 2006.