Master of Science (MS)
Renewable Natural Resources
Understanding den selection for the Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus) may provide insight into habitat requirements of the subspecies and assist in conservation and management efforts. With that goal, I assessed den selection of female Louisiana black bears at multiple spatial scales in northern and central Louisiana. I used 230 den-years to examine den type (tree or ground), microhabitat characteristics at dens, and effects of landscape characteristics on den selection. We also evaluated tree availability and reuse. Solitary and parturient females selected tree dens more frequently (65%) than ground dens. However, tree dens were not required for successful denning and reproduction. Ground dens were consistently located in upland habitat with dense understory. An evaluation of ground den locations relative to landscape composition and configuration indicated that ground dens were positively associated with proximity to water, greater proportions of water, and smaller patch sizes of water. Tree dens were predominantly located in baldcypress (86%) surrounded by water (80%), likely selected for the presence of a suitable cavity and were positively associated with proximity to edge and higher proportions of swamp and water habitat than surrounding areas. A survey of available tree dens indicated that densities of tree dens were comparable to other southeastern areas with sustainable bear populations, which suggested that tree den densities are likely adequate to support a population. Tree dens were associated with similar landscape characteristics across my northern and central study areas, which suggested that landscape variables may be used by managers to identify where tree dens should occur and may prioritize conservation efforts in these areas. Due to the variety of habitat types suitable for ground dens, it was not feasible to identify optimal habitat for ground dens based solely on variables that reflected land cover.
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Crook, Annelie Crook, "A multi-scale assessment of den selection of Louisiana black bears (Ursus americanus luteolus) in northern and central Louisiana" (2008). LSU Master's Theses. 4287.