Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Mother bear knows best place to call home

Date:
January 22, 2013
Source:
University of Alberta
Summary:
Mama bear appears to know best when it comes to selecting a place to call home, according to a new study. The research, which may ultimately help protect Alberta's dwindling population of grizzly bears, is among the first of its kind to test the nature-versus-nurture debate on how large, free-ranging wildlife select habitat.

Scott Nielsen holds one of the GPS radio collars his research team used to track 32 grizzly bears across 9,752 square kilometres in west-central Alberta.
Credit: Richard Siemens

Mama bear appears to know what's best when it comes to selecting a place to call home, according to a new University of Alberta study.

Related Articles


The research, which may ultimately help protect Alberta's dwindling population of grizzly bears, is among the first of its kind to test the nature-versus-nurture debate on how large, free-ranging wildlife select habitat.

Lead author Scott Nielsen, assistant professor in the Department of Renewable Resources, and head researcher in the U of A's Applied Conservation Ecology (ACE) Lab, teamed with one of the lab's post-doctoral fellows, Aaron Shafer, and professor Mark Boyce of the Department of Biological Sciences for the four-year study.

Published in the latest issue of PLOS ONE, their work explored whether the maternal rearing of cubs shaped which habitats grizzly bears eventually choose. The findings "suggest that habitat selection is learned by young grizzly bears from their mothers and would likely be a more adaptive strategy than using instinct," Nielsen said.

"There are a number of strategies that appear to be handed down from generation to generation from mother to offspring. It's the 'nurture' side of the equation that is shaping the life of the bear."

The study is part of ongoing work by Nielsen and a team of master's students and PhD candidates who study conservation issues related to species at risk, such as grizzlies, to help in their population recovery. Other current research includes work on lizards, otters, boreal forest biodiversity and restoration of degraded ecosystems.

Through the ACE lab, U of A scientists are identifying critical habitats and needs of threatened species such as grizzlies, and determining the most effective management actions for their recovery.

The grizzly study, conducted in the foothills of west-central Alberta, tracked 32 adult and young grizzly bears that had been fitted with GPS radio collars. The animals' movements were monitored from 31,849 locations spanning 9,752 square kilometres.

Nielsen and his team observed that genetically related female bears shared habitat selection patterns regardless of their location, whereas male bears related to one another did not.

"This suggests that there are different habitat selection strategies used by grizzly bears and that these are learned early in life, because male bears don't participate in parental care," Nielsen said.

The grizzly is considered a threatened species in Alberta (there are fewer than 700 in the province), and if their habitat-use strategies are indeed learned from early experiences, "then the habitats chosen for relocation of 'problem' bears or to supplement threatened populations would be important," Nielsen said.

Knowing that habitat selection is part of a learned behaviour, conservationists tasked with relocating bears far from the animals' known environments should pay close attention to the habitats into which they are released, he added.

The research was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Alberta Conservation Association and partners from the Foothills Research Institute Grizzly Bear Program.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Alberta. The original article was written by Bev Betkowski. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Scott E. Nielsen, Aaron B. A. Shafer, Mark S. Boyce, Gordon B. Stenhouse. Does Learning or Instinct Shape Habitat Selection? PLoS ONE, 2013; 8 (1): e53721 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0053721

Cite This Page:

University of Alberta. "Mother bear knows best place to call home." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 22 January 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122111752.htm>.
University of Alberta. (2013, January 22). Mother bear knows best place to call home. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 21, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122111752.htm
University of Alberta. "Mother bear knows best place to call home." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/01/130122111752.htm (accessed December 21, 2014).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Plants & Animals News

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

Researchers Test Colombian Village With High Alzheimer's Rates

AFP (Dec. 19, 2014) In Yarumal, a village in N. Colombia, Alzheimer's has ravaged a disproportionately large number of families. A genetic "curse" that may pave the way for research on how to treat the disease that claims a new victim every four seconds. Duration: 02:42 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Monarch Butterflies Descend Upon Mexican Forest During Annual Migration

Reuters - Light News Video Online (Dec. 19, 2014) Millions of monarch butterflies begin to descend onto Mexico as part of their annual migration south. Rough Cut (no reporter narration) Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

The Best Protein-Filled Foods to Energize You for the New Year

Buzz60 (Dec. 19, 2014) The new year is coming and nothing will energize you more for 2015 than protein-filled foods. Fitness and nutrition expert John Basedow (@JohnBasedow) gives his favorite high protein foods that will help you build muscle, lose fat and have endless energy. Video provided by Buzz60
Powered by NewsLook.com
Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Birds Might Be Better Meteorologists Than Us

Newsy (Dec. 19, 2014) A new study suggests a certain type of bird was able to sense a tornado outbreak that moved through the U.S. a day before it hit. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Plants & Animals

Earth & Climate

Fossils & Ruins

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins