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Grizzly bear movement models predict habitat use for nearby populations

February 11, 2023

Conservation planning and decision-making can be enhanced by ecological models that reliably transfer to times and places beyond those where models were developed. Transferrable models can be especially helpful for species of conservation concern, such as grizzly bears (Ursus arctos). Currently, only four grizzly bear populations remain in the contiguous United States. We evaluated transferability of previously derived individual-based, integrated step selection functions (iSSFs) developed from GPS-collared grizzly bears in the Northern Continental Divide Ecosystem by applying them within the nearby Selkirk (SE), Cabinet-Yaak (CYE), and Greater Yellowstone Ecosystems (GYE). We simulated 100 replicates of 5000 steps for each iSSF in each ecosystem, summarized relative use into 10 equal-area classes for each sex, and overlaid GPS locations from bears in the SE, CYE, and GYE on resulting maps. Spearman rank correlations between numbers of locations and class rank were ≥ 0.96 within each study area, indicating models were highly predictive of grizzly bear space use in these nearby populations. Assessment of models using smaller subsets of data in space and time demonstrated generally high predictive accuracy for females. Although generally high across space and time, predictive accuracy for males was low within some watersheds and in summer within the SE and CYE, potentially due to seasonal effects, vegetation, and food assemblage differences. Altogether, these results demonstrated high transferability of our models to landscapes in the Northern Rocky Mountains, suggesting they may be used to evaluate habitat suitability and connectivity throughout the region to benefit conservation planning.

Publication Year 2023
Title Grizzly bear movement models predict habitat use for nearby populations
DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2023.109940
Authors Sarah Nelson Sells, Cecily M. Costello, Paul Lukacs, Frank T. van Manen, Mark A. Haroldson, Wayne Kasworm, Justin Tesiberg, Milan Vinks, Daniel D. Bjornlie
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Biological Conservation
Index ID 70240674
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center