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Title: Oak-Black Bear Relationships in Southeastern Uplands

Author: Clark, Joseph D.;

Date: 2004

Source: Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-73. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 116-119

Publication Series: Miscellaneous Publication

   Note: This article is part of a larger document. View the larger document

Description: Bears (Ursus americanus) primarily occur in upland habitats in the Southeast because uplands were the last to be developed for agriculture and were more likely to become publicly owned. National parks and forests created in the early to mid-1900s served as sources to supply surrounding uplands with bears. Bears could not survive in southeastern uplands without oak mast. Bear reproductive and mortality rates in the region have been shown to be directly linked with acorn production. Masting is thought to be an adaptation by oaks to satiate predators during good acorn years, thus ensuring that the remainder will germinate. Acorn predator populations, however, cannot respond numerically to increased acorn production because the masting is episodic and synchronous. Consequently, bears have developed physiological, behavioral, and ecological adaptations to cope with such food shortages. Despite such adaptations, upland hardwood forests in the Southeast are of lower quality than they once were. The loss of the American chestnut (Castanea dentata), higrading, and soil degradation have markedly decreased the carrying capacity for bears and other wildlife. Other changes such as recent forest management practices, forest fragmentation, invasion by the gypsy moth (Lymantria dispar), and oak decline threaten to further degrade the capability of southeastern uplands to support bears.

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Clark, Joseph D. 2004. Oak-Black Bear Relationships in Southeastern Uplands. Gen. Tech. Rep. SRS-73. Asheville, NC: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Southern Research Station. pp. 116-119


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