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Researchers Provide Potential Explanation for Declines in Brown Bear Populations

Animals may fall into what are called evolutionary and ecological traps when they make poor decisions using seemingly reliable environmental cues.

Thursday, April 5, 2018 12:01 am EDT
"Despite the interest in large carnivore conservation in human-modified landscapes, the emergence of traps and their potential effects on the conservation of large carnivore populations has frequently been overlooked"

Animals may fall into what are called evolutionary and ecological traps when they make poor decisions using seemingly reliable environmental cues. For example, animals may select habitats to occupy based on food availability, but mortality may be highest in habitats with the highest food availability. A new Mammal Review article examines how the brown (grizzly) bear can fall into such traps in human-modified landscapes, which may contribute to decreases in brown bear populations.

In their article, researchers describe evolutionary and ecological traps for brown bears, and they propose mechanisms by which traps may affect the dynamics and viability of brown bear populations. There are six potential trap scenarios: food resources close to human settlements; agricultural landscapes; roads; artificial feeding sites; hunting by humans; and other human activities (including ecotourism and reindeer husbandry).

“Despite the interest in large carnivore conservation in human-modified landscapes, the emergence of traps and their potential effects on the conservation of large carnivore populations has frequently been overlooked,” said lead author Dr. Vincenzo Penteriani, of the Spanish National Research Council (CSIC), in Spain. “More effort should thus be put into the consideration that traps may be behind the unexpected decreases of brown bear and other large carnivore populations in human-modified landscapes.”


Additional Information

Link to Study: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/mam.12123

About Journal

Mammal Review is the official scientific periodical of the Mammal Society, and covers all aspects of mammalian biology and ecology. Hypothesis-driven analytical and systematic reviews of current theoretical and applied research on mammals, meta-analyses, practical assessments of techniques for studying mammals and large-scale considerations of the status, conservation and management of mammals are particularly welcome. We publish limited numbers of comments, in which authors respond to papers published in Mammal Review, and short communications, in which new findings or methods from the field of mammalogy are described. We also publish perspectives, in which authors present an original point of view on any aspect of mammalian biology, behaviour, ecology and evolution, or on a management issue in mammalogy.

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Contact:

Josh Glickman
+1 (201) 748-5720
sciencenewsroom@wiley.com

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