, Volume 132, Issue 1, pp 102-108

Hierarchical habitat selection by barren-ground grizzly bears in the central Canadian Arctic

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Using resource selection functions, we examined habitat selection patterns of barren-ground grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in the central Canadian Arctic among and within home ranges. There was no difference between the sexes with regard to habitat selection patterns at the home range level (Wilks' λ, approx. F 11,11=1.27, P=0.37). Bear home ranges contain more esker habitat, tussock/hummock successional tundra, lichen veneer, birch seep, and tall shrub riparian areas relative to the proportional availability of habitats in the study area. We observed differences in habitat selection within home ranges among levels of sex/reproductive status (Wilks' λ, approx. F 20,412=3.32, P<0.001) and by season (Wilks' λ, approx. F 30,605=2.71, P<0.001). Eskers and tall shrub riparian zones were the habitats most preferred by bears throughout the year. Tussock/hummock successional tundra was also favored by males at varying times during the year and lichen veneers were favored in spring and autumn by most bears. Females with cubs tended to avoid the highest ranked habitat for males throughout the year. This pattern of habitat selection was not observed for females without accompanying young. Results of this study underline the importance of scale dependence in habitat selection. Failure to view habitat selection as a hierarchical process may result in a narrow and possibly misleading notion of habitat selection patterns.

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