Physiological evidence for a human-induced landscape of fear in brown bears (Ursus arctos)
Journal article, Peer reviewed
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OriginalversjonStøen, O.-G., Ordiz Fernandez, A. A., Evans, A., Laske, T., Kindberg, J., Fröbert, O., . . . Arnemo, J. M. (2015). Physiological evidence for a human-induced landscape of fear in brown bears (Ursus arctos). Physiology and Behavior, 152(A), 244-248. doi: 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.09.030 10.1016/j.physbeh.2015.09.030
Human persecution is a major cause of mortality for large carnivores. Consequently, large carnivores avoid humans, but may use human-dominated landscapes by being nocturnal and elusive. Behavioral studies indicate that certain ecological systems are “landscapes of fear”, driven by antipredator behavior. Because behavior and physiology are closely interrelated, physiological assessments may provide insight into the behavioral response of large carnivores to human activity. To elucidate changes in brown bears' (Ursus arctos) behavior associated with human activity, we evaluated stress as changes in heart rate (HR) and heart rate variability (HRV) in 12 GPS-collared, free-ranging bears, 7 males and 5 females, 3–11 years old, using cardiac-monitoring devices. We applied generalized linear regression models with HR and HRV as response variables and chest activity, time of day, season, distance traveled, and distance to human settlements from GPS positions recorded every 30 min as potential explanatory variables. Bears exhibited lower HRV, an indication of stress, when they were close to human settlements and especially during the berry season, when humans were more often in the forest, picking berries and hunting. Our findings provide evidence of a human-induced landscape of fear in this hunted population of brown bears.