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This project undertakes two key research activities and knowledge gaps that need to be addressed to support the recovery of provincial grizzly bear populations. This project focuses on provincial grizzly bear habitat which will include the establishment of current nutritional landscapes for grizzly bears, the development of carrying capacity estimates for different population units and the development of new models to link landscape resources with grizzly bear growth and reproduction. We are also developing and validating non-invasive biomarkers of reproductive state that can be measured in grizzly bear hair, to investigate the effect of long-term stress on reproduction, and to develop multi-state models to identify dynamic relationships between demographic metrics, reproductive function, long-term stress, and environmental covariates. This is a 3-year research plan providing key building blocks on which to integrate the needs of our society with the environmental requirements of grizzly bears. 

As part of this project, we will also monitor and measure, on an annual scale, landscape conditions and change within Alberta’s grizzly bear range. Measurements of annual changes in landscape disturbances will be necessary for relating landscape condition and rates of change to measured changes in grizzly bear  habitat conditions and reproductive performance. This work will also provide the basis for updating existing static landcover map products into dynamic annual products for use in nutritional landscape research. These base maps will track the major human-induced factors that dominate landscape change in grizzly bear habitat in Alberta. This work will be production based with a schedule for delivery of base map layers necessary to support data analysis within other research activities. We will build upon new developments and advances from within our research team (Linke et al. 2009, Stewart et al. (in press), and Hilker et al. 2009) to improve the characterization of disturbance regimes and the temporal detail of these important base map layers. 

Based on the results of this research our team will provide new GIS tools and applications designed to aid land management decisions in provincial grizzly bear habitat. These tools will facilitate predictions of landscape conditions and a better understanding of the consequences to and management actions necessary for addressing future challenges to sustaining Alberta’s flagship conservation species and the economic viability of the industries sharing those landscapes.

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