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A female black bear denning habitat model using a geographic information system

Ursus

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Abstract

We used the Mahalanobis distance statistic and a raster geographic information system (GIS) to model potential black bear (Ursus americanus) denning habitat in the Ouachita Mountains of Arkansas. The Mahalanobis distance statistic was used to represent the standard squared distance between sample variates in the GIS database (forest cover type, elevation, slope, aspect, distance to streams, distance to roads, and forest cover richness) and variates at known bear dens. Two models were developed: a generalized model for all den locations and another specific to dens in rock cavities. Differences between habitat at den sites and habitat across the study area were represented in 2 new GIS themes as Mahalanobis distance values. Cells similar to the mean vector derived from the known dens had low Mahalanobis distance values, and dissimilar cells had high values. The reliability of the predictive model was tested by overlaying den locations collected subsequent to original model development on the resultant den habitat themes. Although the generalized model demonstrated poor reliability, the model specific to rock dens had good reliability. Bears were more likely to choose rock den locations with low Mahalanobis distance values and less likely to choose those with high values. The model can be used to plan the timing and extent of management actions (e.g., road building, prescribed fire, timber harvest) most appropriate for those sites with high or low denning potential. 

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
A female black bear denning habitat model using a geographic information system
Series title:
Ursus
Volume:
10
Year Published:
1998
Language:
English
Publisher:
International Association for Bear Research and Management
Contributing office(s):
Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center, Leetown Science Center
Description:
5 p.
First page:
181
Last page:
185
Country:
United States
State:
Arkansas
Other Geospatial:
Dry Creek Wilderness Area, Ouachita Mountain region
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N