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Home Ranges and Habitat Selection by Black Bears in a Newly Colonized Population in Florida

Karelus, Dana L., McCown, J. Walter, Scheick, Brian K., Kerk, Madelon van de, Oli, Madan K.
Southeastern naturalist 2016 v.15 no.2 pp. 346-364
Ursus americanus, animals, carnivores, females, forest habitats, habitat destruction, habitat fragmentation, home range, landscapes, males, models, riparian forests, summer, urban areas, Florida, Ocala National Forest
Understanding how animals use space and resources in newly colonized, anthropogenically altered habitats is important for species management because animals in fragmented habitats may use the landscape differently than conspecifics in contiguous habitats. We collected GPS-location data for 16 individuals (6 females, ages 1–9 y; 10 males, ages 2–8 y) from the summer of 2011 to the summer of 2013 to study space and habitat use by a recently established population of Ursus americanus floridanus (Florida Black Bear) in a fragmented landscape of north-central Florida. Average (± 1 SE) female and male homerange sizes estimated using the kernel density method were 31.16 ± 8.23 km² and 220.93 ± 28.48 km², respectively. Average 95% minimum convex polygon estimates were 34.49 ± 12.76 km² for females and 226.04 ± 45.32 km² for males. Home ranges in our study area were generally larger than those reported for Black Bears inhabiting the nearby contiguous forested habitat of Ocala National Forest, indicating that fragmentation may influence home-range size. Compositional analysis and generalized linear mixed models revealed that Black Bears selected most strongly for riparian forests; urban areas were generally avoided. These results suggest that large carnivores that inhabit fragmented landscapes may require more space than conspecifics in habitats with better connectivity, and highlight the importance of riparian forests for Black Bears.