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Dietary breadth of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem

Ursus

By:
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https://doi.org/10.2192/URSUS-D-13-00008.1

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Abstract

Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem (GYE) are opportunistic omnivores that eat a great diversity of plant and animal species. Changes in climate may affect regional vegetation, hydrology, insects, and fire regimes, likely influencing the abundance, range, and elevational distribution of the plants and animals consumed by GYE grizzly bears. Determining the dietary breadth of grizzly bears is important to document future changes in food resources and how those changes may affect the nutritional ecology of grizzlies. However, no synthesis exists of all foods consumed by grizzly bears in the GYE. We conducted a review of available literature and compiled a list of species consumed by grizzly bears in the GYE. We documented >266 species within 200 genera from 4 kingdoms, including 175 plant, 37 invertebrate, 34 mammal, 7 fungi, 7 bird, 4 fish, 1 amphibian, and 1 algae species as well as 1 soil type consumed by grizzly bears. The average energy values of the ungulates (6.8 kcal/g), trout (Oncorhynchus spp., 6.1 kcal/g), and small mammals (4.5 kcal/g) eaten by grizzlies were higher than those of the plants (3.0 kcal/g) and invertebrates (2.7 kcal/g) they consumed. The most frequently detected diet items were graminoids, ants (Formicidae), whitebark pine seeds (Pinus albicaulis), clover (Trifolium spp.), and dandelion (Taraxacum spp.). The most consistently used foods on a temporal basis were graminoids, ants, whitebark pine seeds, clover, elk (Cervus elaphus), thistle (Cirsium spp.), and horsetail (Equisetum spp.). Historically, garbage was a significant diet item for grizzlies until refuse dumps were closed. Use of forbs increased after garbage was no longer readily available. The list of foods we compiled will help managers of grizzly bears and their habitat document future changes in grizzly bear food habits and how bears respond to changing food resources.

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Additional publication details

Publication type:
Article
Publication Subtype:
Journal Article
Title:
Dietary breadth of grizzly bears in the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem
Series title:
Ursus
DOI:
10.2192/URSUS-D-13-00008.1
Volume:
25
Issue:
1
Year Published:
2014
Language:
English
Publisher:
International Association for Bear Research & Management
Contributing office(s):
Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description:
14 p.
First page:
60
Last page:
72
Country:
United States
State:
Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
Other Geospatial:
Grand Teton National Park, Grays Lake, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Memorial Parkway, National Elk Refuge, Red Rock Lakes, Yellowstone National Park
Online Only (Y/N):
N
Additional Online Files (Y/N):
N