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Research article - Peer-reviewed, 2017

Seasonality and human disturbance alter brown bear activity patterns: implications for circumpolar carnivore conservation?

Ordiz, Andrés; Sæbø, Solve; Kindberg, Jonas; Swenson, Jon E.; Stoen, Ole-Gunnar

Abstract

Wildlife may adapt activity patterns to daily and seasonal variations in environmental factors and human activity. At the daily scale, diurnal or nocturnal activity can be a response to variations in food availability and/or human avoidance. At the seasonal scale, variation in prey vulnerability underlies the influence of predators on prey population dynamics, which is of management concern when predation affects domestic species. We analyzed the movement patterns of 133 GPS-collared brown bears in three study areas in Sweden in spring, when bears prey on the calves of domestic reindeer and moose, and in summer-early fall, when bears rely mostly on berries, in three areas with a gradient of human disturbance. In spring, the bears' daily movement patterns and time of predation on ungulates overlapped. In summer-early fall, when bears are hyperphagic to store fat for hibernation and reproduction, variation in the degree of nocturnal behavior among study areas likely reflected behavioral adjustments to reduce the risk of encountering people. Flexibility in daily movement patterns by large carnivores may help them survive in human-dominated landscapes, but behavioral changes may also reflect environmental degradation, for example human disturbance influencing foraging opportunities. Diurnal human activity disturbs the carnivores, but that does not hinder depredation on reindeer, because it occurs mostly at night. Thus, ideally carnivores and reindeer should be separated spatially to reduce depredations. A zoning system prioritizing carnivore conservation and reindeer herding in different areas might help reduce a long-lasting conflict.

Keywords

activity rhythms; brown bear; human disturbance; movement patterns; reindeer; seasonality; predation; human-wildlife conflict

Published in

Animal Conservation
2017, volume: 20, number: 1, pages: 51-60
Publisher: WILEY

Authors' information

Ordiz, Andrés
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Ecology
Sæbø, Solve
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Norwegian Institute for Nature Research (NINA)
Swenson, Jon E.
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Wildlife, Fish and Environmental Studies
Norwegian University of Life Sciences (NMBU)

UKÄ Subject classification

Ecology

Publication Identifiers

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/acv.12284

URI (permanent link to this page)

https://res.slu.se/id/publ/81184