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Omnidirectional connectivity for the Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) across the Colombian Andes

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Conserving or restoring connectivity is a common objective of landscape-scale conservation initiatives. However, precise species occurrence or movement data to inform or validate spatial models are often lacking.


Our objectives were to (1) produce the first approximation of country-wide connectivity for Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) in Colombia and (2) demonstrate a novel approach for model validation which uses publicly available web and social media records of a flagship species.


We used general knowledge about Andean bear habitat associations and indices of ecological integrity to construct a resistance surface across the Colombian Andes. We used this resistance surface to model omnidirectional connectivity using circuit theory. We validated our model with coarse location data acquired from local news stories and social media posts.


Our model was most sensitive to changes in the resistance values of agricultural landcover and the mid-elevational zone, but uncertainty analysis demonstrated these changes had little impact on our conclusions regarding the municipalities most conducive to Andean bear movement. Just over one-third of those areas most conducive to Andean bear movement were within protected areas, while 8% coincided with agricultural landcover.


We constructed a model of connectivity that did not rely on independent, empirically derived location data. Our model is coarse (1 km resolution) but can still provide useful information to practitioners in Colombia who are working with scarce ecological data. More information about how Andean bears move through agricultural landscapes would help improve our understanding of connectivity for this species in Colombia.

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We thank E. Koen and 2 anonymous reviewers for their valuable feedback on an earlier version of this manuscript.


The research was supported by the Warnell School of Forestry and Natural Resources and the Graduate School at the University of Georgia.

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RH and NN designed the study. RH conducted the analysis and wrote the manuscript. NN provided guidance in the development and implementation of the research and reviewed/edited the manuscript.

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Correspondence to Rhianna R. Hohbein.

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Online Resource 1 Categorical assignments of the 53 landcover classes originally identified in the landcover dataset from Colombia’s Institute of Hydrology, Meteorology, and Environmental Studies (IDEAM 2014). Supplementary file1 (XLSX 10 KB)


Online Resource 2 Citations of the 110 records within which we found references of Andean bear sightings or locations. Supplementary file2 (XLSX 21 KB)


Online Resource 3 Eight percent of the habitat considered most conducive to Andean bear movement in Colombia coincided with agricultural landcover. These are the 15 municipalities where this overlap occurred most frequently and thus where conflict mitigation strategies might be most urgently needed. Supplementary file3 (XLSX 9 KB)

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Hohbein, R.R., Nibbelink, N.P. Omnidirectional connectivity for the Andean bear (Tremarctos ornatus) across the Colombian Andes. Landscape Ecol 36, 3169–3185 (2021).

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