Range and local population densities of brown bear Ursus arctos in Slovenia
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- Jerina, K., Jonozovič, M., Krofel, M. et al. Eur J Wildl Res (2013) 59: 459. doi:10.1007/s10344-013-0690-2
Solid understanding of species’ range and local population densities is important for successful wildlife management and research. Specific behavioral and ecological characteristics make brown bear Ursus arctos a difficult species to study. We present a map of range and local population densities of brown bears in Slovenia, made with the use of a new approach similar to voting classifications based on a combination of four datasets: Global Positioning System telemetry data, records of bear removals, systematic and opportunistic direct observations and signs of bear presence, and noninvasive genetic samples. Results indicate that the majority of bears in Slovenia live in Dinaric Mountains in the southern part of the country where local bear population densities exceed 40 bears/100 km2. This is one of the highest population densities reported so far for this species worldwide. Population densities decrease towards the north (Alpine region) and are very low along the border with Italy and Austria where almost no females are present. This explains slow past and present expansion of this transboundary bear population into the Alps and should be considered in future bear re-colonization management strategies. Results also showed that data from observations and removals overestimate bear population densities at low values, while mortality and genetic data overestimate population densities in areas with more people. Nevertheless, all data types appeared useful for describing the general bear distribution patterns. Similar approach could be applied to studies of other charismatic or game species, for which several types of data are often available.