Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Study led by indigenous people uncovers grizzly bear 'highway' in coastal British Columbia

Date:
July 17, 2014
Source:
American Museum of Natural History
Summary:
A novel, First Nations-led research collaboration has revealed a previously undocumented grizzly bear aggregation in coastal British Columbia, one of the most southerly aggregations of salmon-feeding grizzlies in North America. Using non-invasive DNA analysis, the authors describe a grizzly bear 'highway,' identifying nearly 60 individual bears, many who travelled hundreds of miles from surrounding areas to feed on autumn-spawning salmon in the Koeye River.

A novel, First Nations-led research collaboration has revealed a previously undocumented grizzly bear aggregation in coastal British Columbia, one of the most southerly aggregations of salmon-feeding grizzlies in North America. Using non-invasive DNA analysis, the authors describe a grizzly bear "highway," identifying nearly 60 individual bears, many who travelled hundreds of miles from surrounding areas to feed on autumn-spawning salmon in the Koeye River. The research was guided by the customary law and cultural practices of the Heiltsuk First Nation and recently published in the journal Ecology and Society.

Conducted over three years, the study also provides potential early evidence of a declining bear population in the area and links this to the decreasing availability of salmon. The project demonstrates a model for resource management by indigenous people, in which research is embedded within a socially and culturally appropriate framework.

"What's really novel here is the set of relationships, and deep cultural histories, that guided applied conservation science," said Chris Filardi, director of Pacific programs at the American Museum of Natural History's Center for Biodiversity and Conservation and an author on the paper. "In this collaborative setting, results are directly relevant to tribal leadership impacting conservation in ways that elude most scientific studies."

The study was centered in the Koeye River Conservancy, one of numerous protected areas designated by the Heiltsuk First Nation in the Great Bear Rainforest of British Columbia in 2009. The Heiltsuk people settled in this area more than 9,000 years ago and are now reasserting their rights as guardians of the Koeye River. To realize this renewal,

they established the Qqs (Eyes) Projects Society, a Heiltsuk-driven nonprofit that builds capacity for research, monitoring, and tribal governance of high-value stewardship areas. In 2006, the Heiltsuk people partnered with the Museum and The Nature Conservancy to implement a grizzly bear survey project with a unique dimension: from the outset, the study was designed to uphold the Heiltsuk Nation's Gvi'ilas, or customary law, a set of guiding principles that frame a worldview focused on core values.

"What appealed to us was the opportunity to root science in strong cultural stewardship frameworks," said Qqs' William Housty. "We articulate specific Heiltsuk laws and customs related to respect and reciprocity and match them with scientific tools and knowledge to put those principles in action."

During the survey, grizzly bear hair was collected as the animals walked by scented wire snares set up in the area during salmon-spawning season. As part of the non-invasive aspect of the work, the "baits" did not provide rewards to the bears visiting the snares.

At the same time, the team calculated the accessibility of salmon to bears with an index based on the number of salmon that return to the Koeye each year; water flow; and water visibility. Over the three-year survey, they found a decreasing population of bears in the Koeye, likely tied to declining salmon accessibility.

"This study shows that protected areas are not enough. We knew that bears are wide-ranging, but this study shows how vulnerable they are to a variety of threats," said Richard Jeo, a staff scientist for The Nature Conservancy. "Scientific insight can help guide management but the fate of these bears and the rainforest where they live is still largely in the hands of a few First Nations."

"We want to practice land and resource management with strong information empowering our decision makers," Housty said. "Whether it's regulating activities like forestry and tourism or indigenous-led advocacy to end trophy hunting for bears, ensuring that we ourselves are leading the best available science is a critical part of asserting our sovereignty and stewardship responsibility."

The next step for the group is to expand survey work to include a broader sampling of culturally significant salmon streams, improve linkages to salmon monitoring, and directly involve Heiltsuk families and their histories with places they share with bears.

"What is most important is Heiltsuk-driven science across the range of areas used by bears and people," Filardi said. "Knowledge about the interwoven ecologies of bears, salmon, and people can guide actions unavailable in places farther south where bears and salmon have vanished, or across broader society, where we have not yet come to value bears and salmon as integral to our physical and spiritual lives."

Funding for the collaboration was provided by The Nature Conservancy, Wilburforce Foundation, Disney Worldwide Conservation Foundation, and the American Museum of Natural History.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by American Museum of Natural History. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. William G. Housty, Anna Noson, Gerald W. Scoville, John Boulanger, Richard M. Jeo, Chris T. Darimont, Christopher E. Filardi. Grizzly bear monitoring by the Heiltsuk people as a crucible for First Nation conservation practice. Ecology and Society, 2014; 19 (2) DOI: 10.5751/ES-06668-190270

Cite This Page:

American Museum of Natural History. "Study led by indigenous people uncovers grizzly bear 'highway' in coastal British Columbia." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 17 July 2014. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717125045.htm>.
American Museum of Natural History. (2014, July 17). Study led by indigenous people uncovers grizzly bear 'highway' in coastal British Columbia. ScienceDaily. Retrieved September 15, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717125045.htm
American Museum of Natural History. "Study led by indigenous people uncovers grizzly bear 'highway' in coastal British Columbia." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/07/140717125045.htm (accessed September 15, 2014).

Share This



More Plants & Animals News

Monday, September 15, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Conservationists Face Uphill PR Battle With New Shark Rules

Newsy (Sep. 14, 2014) — New conservation measures for shark fishing face an uphill PR battle in the fight to slow shark extinction. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Shocker: Journalists Are Utterly Addicted To Coffee

Newsy (Sep. 13, 2014) — A U.K. survey found that journalists consumed the most amount of coffee, but that's only the tip of the coffee-related statistics iceberg. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

'Magic Mushrooms' Could Help Smokers Quit

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — In a small study, researchers found that the majority of long-time smokers quit after taking psilocybin pills and undergoing therapy sessions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Spinosaurus Could Be First Semi-Aquatic Dinosaur

Newsy (Sep. 11, 2014) — New research has shown that the Spinosaurus, the largest carnivorous dinosaur, might have been just as well suited for life in the water as on land. 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:
from the past week

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