Ibaraki, Japan
Ibaraki, Japan

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Koike S.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Masaki T.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Masaki T.,Japan Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute | Nemoto Y.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | And 7 more authors.
Oikos | Year: 2011

We estimated the seed shadow created by the Asiatic black bear Ursus thibetanus in order to evaluate the bears effectiveness as a seed disperser. We combined data from bear movements, determined by GPS telemetry, with data from gut retention time (GRT). We estimated plant seed shadows in two ways: from direct movement data to give the actual seed shadow (ASS), and from cumulative movement data to give the potential seed shadow (PSS). The purpose of this study was to answer the following questions: (1) does GRT differ between seasons or in the size of contents? (2) Does seed shadow vary among sex, seasons, estimation method (ASS or PSS), and years? (3) Does the masting affect seed shadows? There were no differences in median GRT among seasons or seed dimensions. Combining these data, the seed shadows produced by long GRT (median; 15.2-19.7 hours, maximum; 44.0 hours) and large daily movements suggest that the bears effectively move 40% of the seeds they consume to a distance greater than 500 m from the parent tree and can potentially move the seeds up to a maximum distance of more than 22 000 m from the parent tree. The results also indicate that bears make complex seed shadows caused by multiple defecations and long periods of daily movement. In summary, PSS did not differ between sexes, but PSS can be expected to be larger in autumn than in summer of each year. ASS, however, can be expected to be larger in males than females, and to be larger in autumn than in summer. ASS may become especially large during a poor masting year as compared to good masting years. These results indicate that bears are potentially more effective seed dispersers during years of poor fruit production in autumn. The bears have longer seed shadows than other seed disperser and consequently may play a unique role in the maintenance and renewal of forest ecosystem. © 2011 The Authors.


Yamazaki K.,Zoological Laboratory | Kozakai C.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Koike S.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Morimoto H.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | And 2 more authors.
Ursus | Year: 2012

Ants are an important food resource for most of bear species. During the summer, Japanese black bears (Ursus thibetanus japonicus) use grasslands in the ∼60 km2 Ashio area as an ant feeding site. We studied levels of myrmecophagy using GPS locations and activity sensor information along with direct observations of 2 bears during 2004 and 2005. We measured species composition, biomass, and nutrient contents of the ants and estimated use of ants through bear scat analysis. Both the number of ant species and biomass were higher in Ashio than in the adjacent forest areas. We recorded 15 ant species, 9 of which were fed on by the bears. Lasius flavus and L. hayashi were most abundant species and the species used by bears most often. Bears spent 78 hours/day feeding on ants. We estimated that they potentially ate 50,00060,000 mg (dry weight)/day of ants, whose energy content was around 180300 kcal/d, insufficient to meet their basal and field metabolic needs. Bears may have used ants for essential amino acids that they are unable to produce themselves. Assuming bears come to Ashio specifically for ants, these grasslands are valuable for bears at a time when vegetative food resources are limited. © International Association for Bear Research and Management.


Nakajima A.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Koike S.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Masaki T.,Japan Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute | Shimada T.,Japan Forestry and Forest Products Research Institute | And 4 more authors.
Ecological Research | Year: 2012

In habitats with elevational gradients, differences in the fruiting phenology of a single key food resource may affect the feeding behavior of an animal. The objectives of the present study were to assess (1) whether or not fruiting phenology and characteristics of Quercus crispula acorns differed with changes in altitude (900-1,400 m asl) and area; (2) when bears foraged acorns in relation to their phenological development; and (3) where bears engaged in acorn foraging behavior with respect to acorn phenology. No difference in the fruiting phenology of acorns at various altitudes and locations was found, with the exception of changes in color and abscission period. Acorn abscission period occurred later at a site with an elevation of 1,200 m in Tochigi and at another with an elevation of 1,400 m in Gunma, making the available energy of acorns in the tree canopy (AET) greater and available for a longer time period at those two sites. Foraging of acorns by bears was observed at sites of moderate to high altitude between late September and mid-October. A threshold date when acorns became suitable for foraging by bears could not be identified, as the size and nutritional value of acorns increased continuously. Foraging activity of bears observed at moderate and high altitude sites corresponded with locations where AET was available in greater amounts and for a longer period of time for some sites; however, the small sample size precluded accurate assessment. © 2012 The Ecological Society of Japan.


Kozakai C.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Yamazaki K.,Zoological Laboratory | Nemoto Y.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Nakajima A.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | And 7 more authors.
Journal of Mammalogy | Year: 2013

We documented the fluctuation of daily time budgets in Japanese black bears (Ursus thibetanus japonicus) throughout the year using continuous day-to-day data from activity sensors integrated into global positioning system collars, during 2003-2009. We evaluated the influence of availability of food resources on daily active time of bears in conjunction with differences in sex and reproductive status of females (with or without offspring). The daily active time of bears fluctuated nonlinearly throughout the year. There were 3 turning points at which the activity level clearly changed from increasing to decreasing, or vice versa. Level of activity gradually increased in spring and reached a peak in July, then decreased and reached a trough in late August, and increased and reached a peak again in October. Males and females exhibited similar patterns of seasonal fluctuation in daily active time, although there were differences of activity levels between sexes during some periods. Dates of the 3 turning points did not differ between sexes, or among years. Seasonal variation in food availability may explain the timings of the turning points, at least in part. In addition, yearly variation in food resources, especially hard mast, may have affected the increasing and decreasing pattern of daily active time during autumn. Our results suggest that evaluating activity level based on pooled data without examining differences within a season (or month), and differences in year, sex, and reproductive status may result in misinterpretation. © 2013 American Society of Mammalogists.


Kozakai C.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Yamazaki K.,Zoological Laboratory | Nemoto Y.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | Nakajima A.,Tokyo University of Agriculture and Technology | And 4 more authors.
Journal of Wildlife Management | Year: 2011

Although bears may expand their home ranges in times of low food availability, it is unclear what mechanisms directly affect home range extension in times of low mast production in Japanese forests. To clarify the relationship between home range utilization by Japanese black bears (Ursus thibetanus) and abundance and distribution of mast production, we collected data on habitat use from 13 bears (6Mand 7 F) fitted with Global Positioning System (GPS) collars equipped with activity sensors in the Ashio-Nikko Mountains on the eastern part of Honshu Island, Japan, during 2006-2008. We also collected data on mast production by 5 Fagaceae species. We categorized each fall as either poor (2006) or relatively-good (2007 and 2008) based on mast production. Bears used small patches in their large home ranges and the distances between core areas increased in the fall of 2006, when the mast of Japanese oak (Quercus crispula) were poorly distributed. Our findings suggest that localized patches of Japanese oak are the staple food for bears in our study area, even in poor mast years. However, in the fall of 2006, we also found that bears moved to lower elevations, relative to 2007 and 2008, in search of alternative foods (e.g., Konara oak [Q. serrata] and Japanese chestnut [Castanea crenata]), which were mostly at lower elevations and produced mast consistently over the study period. Our results suggest that dispersion and elevational distribution of mast-producing trees affect bear habitat use in fall, as well as amount of mast. © 2011 The Wildlife Society.

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