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Foraging ecology of brown bears in the Mackenzie Delta region, NWT Open Access


Other title
Arctic ground squirrel
Ursus arctos
resource selection
Coregonus nasus
foraging ecology
brown bear
grizzly bear
Urocitellus parryii
broad whitefish
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Barker, Oliver
Supervisor and department
Derocher, Andrew (Department of Biological Sciences)
Examining committee member and department
Nielsen, Scott (Department of Renewable Resources)
Boyce, Mark (Department of Biological Sciences)
Hik, David (Department of Biological Sciences)
Department of Biological Sciences

Date accepted
Graduation date
Master of Science
Degree level
The Mackenzie Delta region, NWT, has a short growing season and highly seasonal climate, and brown bears (Ursus arctos) there face many challenges obtaining their nutritional requirements. Consumption of meat by brown bears is linked to increases in population density, fecundity, growth and body size. I examined the use of Arctic ground squirrels (Urocitellus parryii), and broad whitefish (Coregonus nasus) as meat sources by Mackenzie Delta brown bears. As a preliminary step, I built an Arctic ground squirrel habitat model, using field-surveyed ground squirrel burrow locations. Using this model, I examined bears’ selection for Arctic ground squirrel habitat as a population, by sex and as individuals, and linked this to results of stable isotope analysis and site investigations. Bears showed little evidence of Arctic ground squirrel use at the population and sex level, but some individual bears appeared to prey heavily on ground squirrels, particularly during hyperphagia. I also described observations of a brown bear using broad whitefish in autumn, and used telemetry locations to show that other bears may also feed heavily on broad whitefish during hyperphagia. My research provides prey-specific evidence for intrapopulation niche variation among Mackenzie Delta brown bears.
License granted by Oliver Barker ( on 2011-01-27T04:24:09Z (GMT): Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of the above terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis, and except as herein provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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