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Phenology of brown bear breeding season and related geographical cues
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Knowledge about breeding biology is often incomplete in species with complex reproductive strategies. The brown bear Ursus arctos is a polygamous seasonal breeder inhabiting a wide variety of habitats and environmental conditions. We compiled information about brown bear breeding season dates from 36 study areas across their distribution range in the Palearctic and Nearctic regions and investigated how their breeding phenology relates to geographical factors (latitude, photoperiod, altitude and region). Brown bear matings were observed for 8 months, from April to November, with a peak in May%July. We found a 59-day difference in the onset of bear breeding season among study areas, with an average 2.3 days delay for each degree of latitude northwards. The onset of the breeding season showed a strong relationship with photoperiod and latitude, but not with region (i.e. Palearctic vs Nearctic) and altitude. First observa- tions of bear mating occurred earlier in areas at lower latitudes. Photoperiod ranged between 14 and 18 hours at the beginning of the season for most of the study areas. The duration of the breeding season ranged from 25 to 138 days among study areas. None of the investigated factors was related to the length of the breeding season. Our results support the relevance of photoperiod to the onset of breeding, as found in other ursids, but not a shorter breeding season at higher latitudes, a pattern reported in other mammals. Our findings suggest a marked seasonality of bear reproductive behaviour, but also certain level of plasticity. Systematic field observations of breeding behaviour are needed to increase our knowledge on the factors determining mating behaviour in species with complex systems and how these species may adapt to climate change.
1.01 - Original Scientific Article
BF - Biotechnical Faculty
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Vol. 87, iss. 1
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Record is a part of a journal
The European zoological journal
European zool. j.
Taylor & Francis
Document is financed by a project
ARRS - Agencija za raziskovalno dejavnost Republike Slovenije (ARRS)
Gozd, gozdarstvo in obnovljivi gozdni viri
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