Sex-specific variation in denning by brown bears

Mammalian Biology
By: , and 



Denning characteristics of brown bears (Ursus arctos) have been described in numerous studies; however, population specific factors (i.e., landscape characteristics and climate) can greatly influence the location and timing of denning. Our objective was to evaluate den-site characteristics and denning chronology for male and female brown bears in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve, Alaska. We used maximum entropy modeling to characterize attributes of den sites and generalized linear mixed models to compare denning chronology between males and females. We located 70 den sites (19 male and 51 female) and documented den entrance (n = 61 [15 male and 46 female]) and emergence (n = 60 [13 male and 47 female]) dates for bears from fall 2014 to spring 2017. The best performing model for estimating probable male den-site use (AUC = 0.862) was most influenced by slope (79.5%). The most parsimonious female model (AUC = 0.910) included elevation (49.3%), slope (43.1%), and aspect (7.6%). Female brown bears on average denned at higher elevations (868, SE = 190 m) than males (762, SE = 195 m) (F1,73 = 4.08, P = 0.047). Additionally, female bears entered dens 8 days earlier than males (SE = 12.82; 20 and 28 October, respectively, P = 0.04), and although not significant (P = 0.09), average female den emergence dates were 7 days (SE = 15.14) later than males. With the potential for increased human activities (i.e. resource extraction and associated access), gaining an understanding of population specific denning requirements is essential for developing future management actions. Our results provide valuable information that will allow decision makers to structure future development in a way that avoids habitats important for denning, and allows for reduced disturbance of winter den sites.

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Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Sex-specific variation in denning by brown bears
Series title Mammalian Biology
DOI 10.1016/j.mambio.2018.08.001
Volume 93
Year Published 2018
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Alaska Science Center Biology MFEB
Description 7 p.
First page 38
Last page 44
Country United States
State Alaska
Other Geospatial Lake Clark National Park and Preserve
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