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Seasonal habitat use and selection by grizzly bears in Northern British Columbia

January 1, 2012

We defined patterns of habitat use and selection by female grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the Besa-Prophet watershed of northern British Columbia. We fitted 13 adult females with Geographic Positioning System (GPS) radio-collars and monitored them between 2001 and 2004. We examined patterns of habitat selection by grizzly bears relative to topographical attributes and 3 potential surrogates of food availability: land-cover class, vegetation biomass or quality (as measured by the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index), and selection value for prey species themselves (moose [Alces alces], elk [Cervus elaphus], woodland caribou [Rangifer tarandus]. Stone's sheep [Ovis dalli stonei]). Although vegetation biomass and quality, and selection values for prey were important in seasonal selection by some individual bears, land-cover class, elevation, aspect, and vegetation diversity most influenced patterns of habitat selection across grizzly bears, which rely on availability of plant foods and encounters with ungulate prey. Grizzly bears as a group avoided conifer stands and areas of low vegetation diversity, and selected for burned land-cover classes and high vegetation diversity across seasons. They also selected mid elevations from what was available within seasonal ranges. Quantifying relative use of different attributes helped place selection patterns within the context of the landscape. Grizzly bears used higher elevations (1,595 ± 31 m SE) in spring and lower elevations (1,436 ± 27 m) in fall; the range of average elevations used among individuals was highest (500 m) during the summer. During all seasons, grizzly bears most frequented aspects with high solar gain. Use was distributed across 10 land-cover classes and depended on season. Management and conservation actions must maintain a diverse habitat matrix distributed across a large elevational gradient to ensure persistence of grizzly bears as levels of human access increase in the northern Rocky Mountains.

Publication Year 2012
Title Seasonal habitat use and selection by grizzly bears in Northern British Columbia
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.235
Authors B. Milakovic, K.L. Parker, D.D. Gustine, R.J. Lay, A.B.D. Walker, M.P. Gillingham
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70035329
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse