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Welcome to the technical sessions schedule for the 2015 SEAFWA Annual Meeting.

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Tuesday, November 3 • 10:20am - 10:40am
Reproductive Biology and Denning Ecology of the American Black Bear (Ursus americanus) in an Isolated Population in Central Georgia, USA

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Casey A. Gray, Michael K. Hooker, Michael J. Chamberlain –University of Georgia

The American black bear (Ursus americanus) population in central Georgia has become geographically and presumably reproductively isolated from the larger, more continuous northern and southern Georgia black bear populations due to habitat fragmentation and human development. Using non-invasive genetic sampling, a companion study has estimated approximately 150 bears in the population. Understanding the biological and ecological requirements of small, isolated wildlife populations is imperative for maintaining or promoting population growth. During 2012-2014, we studied the reproductive biology, cub survival, and den selection of black bears in central Georgia. We visited dens of 13 females and documented production of 24 cubs of the year (COY). We tracked and obtained visual observations of COY for 11 family units (19 COY) to estimate survival for a 6-month period. Mean litter size was 1.85 ± 0.1 (SE). Mean survival rate for the first 6 months of life was 0.765 ± 0.1 (SE). We evaluated den selection at multiple spatial scales. We assessed microhabitat characteristics at den sites (n=27), and examined effects of landscape characteristics on den selection (n=23). Our findings indicate the importance of early successional habitats within the densely forested landscape in which the central Georgia population exists. Areas associated with upland forests were particularly important due to their higher topography and availability of dense understory vegetation. Information on reproductive ecology gained from this study will be beneficial in developing management recommendations for a sustainable bear population and provide data needed to further assess population viability and sustainability.

Tuesday November 3, 2015 10:20am - 10:40am EST
Ballroom Salon B

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