The impact of landscape disturbance on grizzly bear habitat use in the Foothills Model Forest, Alberta, Canada

Anne Berland, Trisalyn Nelson, Gord Stenhouse, Karen Graham, Jerome Cranston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

31 Scopus citations

Abstract

The Rocky Mountains in Alberta, Canada are subject to a growing number of human activities that cause landscape disturbances. This region is important for large carnivore species such as grizzly bears, whose population decline is a serious management concern. Understanding the impact of landscape disturbance on grizzly bear habitat use is necessary to effectively manage this region and beyond. The goal of this research is to explore the spatial-temporal pattern of habitat use and to characterize the impact of disturbance on use through time. Research was conducted using radio-telemetry location data of female grizzly bears from 1999 to 2003. Kernel home ranges were created annually for three foraging seasons: hypophagia, early hyperphagia, and late hyperphagia. For each season, locations (30 m × 30 m grid cells) were characterized by the temporal persistence or variability in annual use by grizzly bears. Spatial-temporal trends were then compared for disturbed and undisturbed landscapes. Results indicate that in some foraging seasons, particularly hypophagia, the grizzly bear population's use of disturbed areas was proportionally higher than use in undisturbed areas. In other foraging seasons the trends are less clear, but all show instances of preferential selection of disturbed areas. Given that grizzly bear mortality tends to rise when bears use disturbed areas, this preferential selection of disturbed areas is a management concern. To enhance conservation efforts it may be beneficial to control human use in high-quality habitats. This protection may be most important for high-quality habitats used in the spring, as bears appeared to use smaller areas during this period.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1875-1883
Number of pages9
JournalForest Ecology and Management
Volume256
Issue number11
DOIs
StatePublished - Nov 20 2008

Keywords

  • Disturbance
  • Grizzly bears
  • Habitat use
  • Kernel density estimation
  • Spatial-temporal patterns

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Forestry
  • Nature and Landscape Conservation
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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