Science Center Objects

This work has two components. First, we developed a method to use our family tree data to examine dispersal. Next, we would like to apply this method to our updated and more complete family tree to improve our understanding of how grizzly bears disperse.

The mother bear had just left this young bear in Glacier National Park. Our project aims to determine what happens to bears.


How can we design developments and conservation easements so Winnie, a newly-independent 2 year-old grizzly bear, can safely disperse to a new home with plentiful food and few dangers? Can we plan developments such that Winnie can move to (and thus rescue) another, smaller population of bears, such as those near the Yaak River in northwest Montana? We would like to use the method we developed to help answer these questions. Keeping populations of animals connected can rescue small populations and build resilience to land use and climate change. Current corridor designs are not based on dispersal data, but instead rely on expert opinion or data reflecting other processes like habitat selection, movement within a home-range, or gene flow. Now, real dispersal data for grizzlies exists that can help us design corridors and understand how certain we are that alternative corridor configurations will successfully connect populations. This will lead to:

  • Estimates of the cost of dispersal (both movement and survival) with confidence intervals!
  • Tools to evaluate multiple land use scenarios
  • Ability to assess the adequacy of surrogate measures of dispersal for corridor design


Kate Kendall (USGS Ecologist Emeritus)
Amy MacLeod (University of Alberta)


Methodology Development

We developed a method of using start and end locations of dispersal events to quantify the cost of moving across the landscape. Our method is described here: Estimating landscape resistance to dispersal. Landscape ecology


Richard B. Chandler (Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources)
J. Andrew Royle (USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center)
Paul Beier (Northern Arizona University)
Katherine Kendall (USGS Emeritis Biologist)