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Insight on resource use by the Andean bear in Corosha district, Amazonas, Peru

Authors:

Abstract

The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) is the only South American bear species and one of the least studied bear species worldwide. It is considered vulnerable with decreasing populations according to IUCN, mainly due to habitat loss related to human development activities, illegal killing and climate change. We collected data of Andean bear activity through a sign survey conducted in the tropical rainy montane forests and grasslands of Corosha district, Amazonas region, in northern Peru (Copal and ACP Hierba Buena). One hundred (100) records of bear signs were obtained between April and May 2016 by walking transects of a total length of 43.4 km and at altitudes ranging from 2120 to 3041 m a.s.l. Results showed that bears used different vegetation types with variable intensity as follows: mountain cloud forest (74%), jalca grassland (13%) and elfin forest (7%). Signs were allocated in eight different categories: feeding signs were recorded more frequently (47%), followed by scats (15%), tracks (14%), scratch marks (7%), tree rubs with hair (7%), tree climbs (7%), daybeds (2%) and one tree nest (1%). Identification of plants consumed and scat analysis revealed a 100% herbivorous diet, which consisted of 12 taxa belonging to four families, i.e. Bromeliaceae (66.2%), Lauraceae (23.5%), Arecaceae (8.8%) and Ericaceae (1.5%). These findings counterbalance local communities’ beliefs that bears are responsible for livestock depredations as we did not find any indications of animal consumption. Furthermore, the extremely rare tree nest detected during the survey and located on the top of a tall Lauraceae tree, revealed another aspect of Andean bears ecology. Lastly, presence of bear hair on rubbing trees seems promising in opening new perspectives for a future and more in depth study of the Andean bear population genetic status in the area.
Results:
Category of signs: Signs were allocated in eight different categories: feeding signs were recorded more frequently (47%), followed by scats
(15%), tracks (14%), scratch marks (7%), tree rubs with hair (7%), tree climbs (7%), daybeds (2%) and one tree nest (1%).
Habitat use: Bears used different vegetation types with variable intensity as follows: mountain cloud forest (74%), jalca grassland (13%) and
elfin forest (12%).
Trophic analysis of scats: Identification of plants consumed and scat analysis revealed a 100% herbivorous diet, which consisted of 12 taxa
belonging to four families, i.e. Bromeliaceae (66.2%), Lauraceae (23.5%), Arecaceae (8.8%) and Ericaceae (1.5%).
Insight on resource use by the Andean bear in Corosha district, Amazonas, Peru
Maria Petridou1, Elizabeth Sperling2, Fanny M. Cornejo2
1Department of Biological Applications and Technology, University of Ioannina, Greece, 2Yunkawasi, Lima, Peru
Introduction: The Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus)is the only
South American bear species and one of the least studied bear
species worldwide. It is considered vulnerable with decreasing
populations according to IUCN, mainly due to habitat loss related to
human development activities, illegal killing and climate change.
Methods: We collected data of Andean bear activity through a sign
survey conducted in the tropical rainy montane forests and grasslands
of Corosha district, Amazonas region, in northern Peru (Copal and ACP
Hierba Buena). One hundred (100) records of bear signs were obtained
between April and May 2016 by walking transects of a total length of
43.4 km and at altitudes ranging from 2120 to 3041 m a.s.l.
Discussion: Our findings counterbalance local communitesbeliefs that bears are responsible for livestock depredations as we did not find any
indications of animal consumption. Furthermore, the extremely rare tree nest detected during the survey and located on the top of a tall
Lauraceae tree, revealed another aspect of Andean bears ecology. Lastly, presence of bear hair on rubbing trees seems promising in opening
new perspectives for a future and more in depth study of the Andean bear population genetic status in the area.
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