Effect of seasonal differences in dietary meat intake on changes in body mass and composition in wild and captive brown bears

Canadian Journal of Zoology
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Abstract

The influence of seasonal dietary meat intake on changes in body mass and composition in wild and captive brown bears (Ursus arctos) was investigated because the importance and availability of meat to brown bear populations is currently an important management consideration in several North American ecosystems. Adult female brown bears on the Kenai Peninsula, Alaska, utilized meat heavily in both spring and fall. Meat accounted for 76.2 ± 26.0% (mean ± 1 SD; primarily moose carrion and calves) of assimilated carbon and nitrogen in the spring and 80.4 ± 22.2% (primarily salmon) in the fall. Mass increases in the spring (71.8 ± 28.2%) were mostly lean body mass, but increases in the fall (81.0 ± 19.5%) were primarily fat. Daily intake by captive brown bears fed meat ad libitum during 12-day trials was positively related to body mass. Mass change was positively related to intake in both seasons, but the composition of the gain varied by season, with spring gains primarily lean body mass (64.2 ± 9.4%), while fall gains were 78.8 ± 19.6% lipid. Absolute rates of gain by wild bears occasionally equaled, but were usually much less than, those of captive bears. This was likely due to a combination of factors, which included the time required to locate and handle meat resources, the limited availability of or access to meat resources, and (or) the duration of meat resource availability. Estimated intake by bears not feeding selectively on high-energy components of moose and salmon were 8.5 ± 1.5 kg/day and 541 ± 156 kg/year and 10.8 ± 4.6 kg/day and 1003 ± 489 kg/year, respectively. Intake would drop by as much as 58% for bears feeding exclusively on salmon roe. Management strategies for areas with brown bears that consume significant amounts of meat should address the perpetuation and availability of these meat resources.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Effect of seasonal differences in dietary meat intake on changes in body mass and composition in wild and captive brown bears
Series title Canadian Journal of Zoology
DOI 10.1139/z99-133
Volume 77
Issue 10
Year Published 1999
Language English
Publisher National Research Council of Canada
Publisher location Ottawa
Contributing office(s) Northern Rocky Mountain Science Center
Description 8 p.
First page 1623
Last page 1630
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Kenai Peninsula
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N
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