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Title (Primary) Expansion of brown bears (Ursus arctos) into the eastern Alps: a spatially explicit population model
Author Wiegand, T.; Knauer, F.; Kaczensky, P.; Naves, J.;
Journal Biodiversity and Conservation
Year 2004
Department OESA;
Volume 13
Issue 1
Language englisch;
Abstract We present a spatially explicit population model for analysing the expansion of brown bears (Ursus arctos) after the reintroduction program in central Austria. The model is based on field investigations into brown bears in Austria and Slovenia and on current knowledge of brown bears. The landscape of the eastern Alps is represented by a GIS-derived raster map defining local habitat suitability and five major spatial barriers to dispersal. The population model follows the fate of individual bears and simulates reproduction, dispersal, home range establishment, and mortality in annual time steps. We indirectly adjust unknown or uncertain model parameters with 10-year data on the number of females with cubs in central Austria and determine key variables of population dynamics, such as population sizes and growth rates within different population nuclei, dispersal distances, or mortality rates, for model parameterisations that reproduce the data on females with cubs. We estimated a current (1996-2000) growth rate of the population in Austria and adjacent parts of Italy of some 14%; a high proportion of this growth was due to immigration from Slovenia. Consequently, the growth rate of the subpopulation in central Austria, which probably is isolated functionally (i.e., no exchange of females) from the nuclei along the Austrian-Slovenian border, yielded some 7%. This subpopulation may comprise seven residents, and we estimated for females a 33% risk of extinction during the 1992-2000 period. Validation and confirmation of our model results with data on bear densities that were not used for model construction and parameterisation supported our findings. The high female mortality rates, together with the vulnerability of the small population to chance events (i.e., demographic stochasticity), are the most pressing threat for the population in the eastern Alps. Our approach could be widely applied for analysing dynamics of rare and endangered species in which the paucity of data precludes an appraisal of the state of the population using standard methods.
ID 4655
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Wiegand, T., Knauer, F., Kaczensky, P., Naves, J. (2004):
Expansion of brown bears (Ursus arctos) into the eastern Alps: a spatially explicit population model
Biodivers. Conserv. 13 (1), 79 - 114