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Santander, Spain

Chapron G.,Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences | Kaczensky P.,University of Veterinary Medicine Vienna | Linnell J.D.C.,Norwegian Institute for Nature Research | Von Arx M.,KORA | And 76 more authors.
Science | Year: 2014

The conservation of large carnivores is a formidable challenge for biodiversity conservation. Using a data set on the past and current status of brown bears (Ursus arctos), Eurasian lynx (Lynx lynx), gray wolves (Canis lupus), and wolverines (Gulo gulo) in European countries, we show that roughly one-third of mainland Europe hosts at least one large carnivore species, with stable or increasing abundance in most cases in 21st-century records. The reasons for this overall conservation success include protective legislation, supportive public opinion, and a variety of practices making coexistence between large carnivores and people possible. The European situation reveals that large carnivores and people can share the same landscape.

Carlos N.,Fundacion Oso Pardo | Carlos N.,University of Oviedo | Fernando B.,Fundacion Oso Pardo | Blanco J.C.,Fundacion Oso Pardo | And 3 more authors.
Acta Theriologica | Year: 2010

Evidence of non-hibernation in brown bears Ursus arctos Linnaeus, 1758 on the Iberian Peninsula has existed since the Middle Ages. We systematically monitored brown bears in the Cantabrian Mountains (Northern Spain) by recording tracks and sightings from 1998 to 2007 to document hibernation behaviour. Our results indicate that females with yearlings and solitary yearlings were more active in winter than bears over two years old. Intensive snow tracking and direct observations of five family groups indicated that they travelled, fed and defecated in winter, which are activities not compatible with the physiological state of hibernation. Also, based on tracking data, the maximum period between two consecutive locations of active family groups in winter was less than that needed by bears to emerge from a state of hibernation (6 days). We conclude that the family groups which we monitored in winter did not hibernate.

Gonzalez E.G.,CSIC - National Museum of Natural Sciences | Blanco J.C.,Fundacion Oso Pardo | Ballesteros F.,Fundacion Oso Pardo | Alcaraz L.,CSIC - National Museum of Natural Sciences | And 2 more authors.
PeerJ | Year: 2016

The brown bear Ursus arctos L., 1758 population of the Cantabrian Mountains (northwestern Spain) became isolated from other bear populations in Europe about 500 years ago and has declined due to hunting and habitat degradation. At the beginning of the 20th century, the Cantabrian population split into eastern and western subpopulations, and genetic exchange between them ceased. In the early 1990s, total population size was estimated to be < 100 bears. Subsequently, reduction in human-caused mortality has brought about an increase in numbers, mainly in the western subpopulation, likely promoting male-mediated migration and gene flow from the western nucleus to the eastern. To evaluate the possible genetic recovery of the small and genetically depauperate eastern subpopulation, in 2013 and 2014 we genotyped hair and faeces samples (116 from the eastern subpopulation and 36 from the western) for 18 microsatellite markers. Data from the annual count of females with cubs of the year (COY) during the past twenty-six years was used to analyze demographic changes. The number of females with COY fell to a minimum of seven in the western and three in eastern subpopulations in the biennium 1993-1994 and reached a respective maximum of 54 and 10 individuals in 2013-2014. We also observed increased bear dispersal and gene flow, mainly from the western to the eastern subpopulation. Of the 26 unique genotypes detected in the eastern subpopulation, 14 (54%) presented an admixture composition, and seven (27%) were determined to be migrants from the western subpopulation. Hence, the two separated and clearly structured subpopulations identified in the past currently show some degree of genetic admixture. This research shows the partial demographic recovery and a change in genetic composition due to migration process in a population of bears that has been isolated for several centuries. © 2016 Gonzalez et al.

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