Stable isotope analyses of hair have been used to estimate the consumption of human foods by American black bears (Ursus americanus). Consumption of human foods influences body mass and reproductive success of bears. However, the underlying factors that cause some bears to become conflict bears and resort to consuming human foods as a portion of their diet are not fully understood. We collected hair samples for stable isotope analysis from 51 black bears in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, Tennessee, USA in 2006. We used δ13C values of hairs to determine if the bears were consuming C3-based (natural foods) or C4-based (human foods) diets, and δ15N values, which increase with more meat in the diet, as a further indication of the consumption of human foods. Male bears with the heaviest tooth wear had a combination of higher δ15N and δ13C values, suggesting that they consume human foods to a greater extent than do other black bears. Based on our results, we hypothesize that tooth wear, and thus dental health, may play a role in the consumption of human foods by larger, male bears.
|Title||Tooth wear and the apparent consumption of human foods among American black bears (Ursus americanus) in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA|
|Authors||Kent A. Hatch, Kimberly A. Kester, Amanda Loveless, Beverly L. Roeder, Frank T. van Manen|
|Publication Subtype||Journal Article|
|Series Title||Mammalian Biology|
|Record Source||USGS Publications Warehouse|
|USGS Organization||Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center|