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Plant diseases may start chain of events to threaten your picnic basket

Date:
October 24, 2013
Source:
BioMed Central Limited
Summary:
Black bears in the Californian Sierra Nevada could be more likely to encounter humans as their natural food sources are threatened, according to an article published. Researchers used GPS collars to track the movements of black bears in Sequoia National Park while measuring the their natural food levels. By tracking the bears’ movements, researchers were able to relate the levels of food available to the bears, to their whereabouts at different times of the year.

Researchers used GPS collars to track the movements of black bears in Sequoia National Park while measuring the their natural food levels.
Credit: Mazur

Black bears in the Californian Sierra Nevada could be more likely to encounter humans as their natural food sources are threatened, according to an article published in the BioMed Central open access journal Animal Biotelemetry.

Researchers used GPS collars to track the movements of black bears in Sequoia National Park while measuring the their natural food levels. They monitored ten bears in 2005, then in 2006, they tagged five of those again, plus an additional five.

By tracking the bears' movements, researchers were able to relate the levels of food available to the bears, to their whereabouts at different times of the year. In summer, movements fell within a predictable range, but in the fall, the bears' movements varied depending on availability of acorns and sugar pine seeds.

In a year when acorn availability was lower during the fall, the bears remained in their summer range to feed on sugar pine seeds. Whereas in a fall season when acorns were plentiful, the bears travelled further outside their summer ranges to reach this food source.

Both of these important food sources are at risk -- sugar pines are vulnerable to white pine blister rust, a fungal pathogen, while oaks are currently at risk from fire exclusion, mule deer predation and potentially a pathogen causing sudden oak death.

The authors extrapolate that if both of these food sources are reduced, bears will travel farther to find the high-calorie foods they need to survive hibernation. This will put bears increasing in contact with humans, and human-bear incidents will likely increase.

mplications of the variable availability of seasonal foods on the home ranges of black bears, Ursus americanus, in the Sierra Nevada of California
Rachel Mazur, A P Klimley and Karen Folger
Animal Biotelemetry


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by BioMed Central Limited. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Rachel Mazur, A P Klimley and Karen Folger. Implications of the variable availability of seasonal foods on the home ranges of black bears, Ursus americanus, in the Sierra Nevada of California. Animal Biotelemetry, October 2013

Cite This Page:

BioMed Central Limited. "Plant diseases may start chain of events to threaten your picnic basket." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 24 October 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131024220920.htm>.
BioMed Central Limited. (2013, October 24). Plant diseases may start chain of events to threaten your picnic basket. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 24, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131024220920.htm
BioMed Central Limited. "Plant diseases may start chain of events to threaten your picnic basket." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131024220920.htm (accessed July 24, 2014).

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