Sympatric black bears (Ursus americanus) and brown bears (Ursus arctos) are common in many boreal systems; however, few predator assemblages are known to coexist on a single seasonally abundant large prey item. In lowland southwestern interior Alaska, black bears and brown bears are considered the primary cause of moose (Alces alces) calf mortality during the first 6 weeks of life. The objective of this study was to document habitat use of global-positioning system (GPS)-collared black bears during peak and non-peak seasons of black bear-induced and brown bear-induced moose calf mortality within southwestern interior Alaska, in spring 2002. We compared habitats of GPS-collared black bears to those of presumably uncollared black bears and brown bears at their moose calf mortality sites. Results from this study suggest that GPS-collared black bears use similar habitat as conspecifics more than expected during the peak period of black bear predation on moose calves, whereas they use habitat in proportion to home range availability during the peak in brown bear predation on moose calves. Sex-specific Ivlev's electivity indices describe greater than expected use of mixed-deciduous forest and needleleaf forest by male GPS-collared black bears during the peak of moose calf predation, whereas females have a tendency to use these habitats less than expected. Juvenile GPS-collared black bears largely use the same habitat as other sympatric predators during the peak of moose calf predation, whereas during the non-peak period juveniles use opposite habitats as adult GPS-collared black bears. The outcome of this study offers possible explanations (e.g., sex, age) for spatial overlap or segregation in one member of a complex predator guild in relation to a seasonal pulse of preferred prey.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics
- Animal Science and Zoology