In human-dominated landscapes, species with large spatial requirements, such as large carnivores, have to deal with human infrastructure and activities within their home ranges. This is the case for the brown bear (Ursus arctos L., 1758) in Scandinavia, which is colonizing more human-dominated landscapes, leading inevitably to an overlap between their home ranges and anthropogenic structures. In this study, we investigated fine-scale habitat selection by brown bears to examine how they deal with this potential disturbance. Using Global Positioning System (GPS) data, we studied (i) habitat selection of female brown bears within their home range and (ii) the influence of diurnal variation in human disturbance on fine-scale habitat use. As expected, females selected habitats within their home range that provided abundant food resources and minimized human-caused disturbance. In addition, our temporal analysis of habitat selection revealed an avoidance of disturbed areas and a selection of slopes by bears during periods of highest human activities, i.e., during daylight hours. We clearly demonstrate the importance of considering the fluctuations in human activity when studying habitat selection, especially at fine spatial scales. Failing to do so may considerably reduce the power to detect important fine-scale habitat-selection behaviors.
Reference: Martin, J., Basille M., Kindberg J., Van Moorter B., Allainé D. & Swenson J.E. (2010) Coping with human disturbance: Spatial and temporal tactics of brown bear. Canadian Journal of Zoology, 88:875–883. DOI: 10.1139/Z10-053