European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 61, Issue 4, pp 583–590 | Cite as

Source populations and roads affect American black bear recolonization

  • Stephanie L. SimekEmail author
  • Jerrold L. Belant
  • Zhaofei Fan
  • Brad W. Young
  • Bruce D. Leopold
  • Jonathan Fleming
  • Brittany Waller
Original Paper


Understanding species distributions and population responses to environmental parameters is important for addressing landscape-level species conservation. We assessed American black bear (Ursus americanus) resource selection based on spatial distribution of a recolonizing population in Mississippi, USA. Given the philopatric behavior of female bears and the risk-disturbance hypothesis, we predicted that bears recolonizing Mississippi would occupy areas close to their source population but avoid areas near roads and with greater human population density. Using location data from radio-collared black bears, landscape metrics, and spatial autoregressive modeling, we estimated annual population-level space use. Our results confirm that black bears recolonizing Mississippi occupy habitats proximate to source populations and avoid areas near roads as probability of bear use was greater in areas closer to source breeding populations and areas farther from roads. Land cover type, elevation, and human density did not influence black bear occurrence at the spatial resolution examined. The lack of avoidance to areas inhabited by humans was likely a consequence of overall low human density, legal protection afforded this species, and that proximity to source population likely has a greater effect on recolonization than avoidance of humans.


American black bear Philopatry Mississippi Recolonization Risk-disturbance hypothesis Ursus americanus 



We thank the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP); Federal Aid in Wildlife Restoration; the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture and the Forest and Wildlife Research Center at Mississippi State University (MSU); and the Bear Education and Restoration Group of Mississippi for funding. We thank H. Fordice, J. Laufenberg, B. and O. Sumerall, C. and W. Winter, members of the MSU Carnivore Ecology Laboratory, private landowners, hunt club members; and Arkansas Game and Fish Commission, Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, USDA Forest Service, and USFWS employees who assisted with field activities.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Stephanie L. Simek
    • 1
    • 5
    Email author
  • Jerrold L. Belant
    • 1
  • Zhaofei Fan
    • 2
  • Brad W. Young
    • 3
  • Bruce D. Leopold
    • 4
  • Jonathan Fleming
    • 4
    • 6
  • Brittany Waller
    • 1
    • 7
  1. 1.Carnivore Ecology Laboratory, Forest and Wildlife Research CenterMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  2. 2.Department of ForestryMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  3. 3.Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and ParksJacksonUSA
  4. 4.Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and AquacultureMississippi State UniversityMississippi StateUSA
  5. 5.Washington Department of Fish and WildlifeOlympiaUSA
  6. 6.Department of GeographyUniversity of North Alabama, UNAFlorenceUSA
  7. 7.South Carolina Department of Natural ResourcesFlorenceUSA

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