Welcome to the spring edition of Grizzly-PAW. It has been an eventful semester, with increased research and a big change to Grizzly-PAW’s structure. We also have a new addition to our team. Cameron McClelland, who some of you may know from fRI, joined Grizzly-PAW in January and will be researching Q3A.3 under the direction of Nicholas Coops.
The 2017 field data collection was very successful with Chris Souliere and Emily Cicon completing field data collection objectives. Although neither is expected to need additional field data collection, other researchers are still collecting data. Ethan Berman continues to collect data for his snow melt dynamics research and has enlisted the help of several of our industrial partners to collect snow melt data. This snow melt data is useful for other aspects of Grizzly-PAW and will be collected for the entirety of Grizzly-PAW. fRI will also continue monitoring the bears that were captured and collared in 2017.
Q1.1 – Eco-Anthromes
Sean Kearney continued work on EcoAnthrome mapping to extend the analysis to all of Alberta. He coded a two-stage modelling process to analyze a resulting classication and compare to existing ecological regionalizations. He has written a draft manuscript and plans to submit it in the spring.
Q1.2 – Snow Melt Dynamics
Ethan Berman continued his research on snow melt dynamics. He installed more cameras to monitor snow dynamics and ran large scale accuracy assessment for the snow cover produce he developed. Based on these results, he has begun writing a manuscript on the snow cover product.
Q1.3 – Bears and Biodiversity
Emily Cicon continued work on analyzing her audio data for bird songs. She has begun surveying possible methods for statistical analysis and plans to complete audio analysis next semester.
Q2.1 – Demographics
Sean Coogan has his first Grizzly-PAW paper accepted. He also has another paper under review with Journal of Applied Ecology. He also created nutritional landscape models.
Q2.2 – Food Supply
Chris Souliere completed one of his academic courses and began analyzing his 2017 field data. He also completed his research proposal and will begin prototyping models for food supply.
Q3A.1 – Grizzly Bear Movement and Health
Matthieu Bourbonnais worked on completing his thesis and preparing his defense. He is expected to defend this spring.
Q3A.2 – Bear Movement and Changing Forest Structure
Brandon completed pre-processing of LiDAR data and calculated the structure metrics to be used for analysis. He will do his analysis and evaluated the results in the spring.
Q3B.1 –Physiological Markers
Lucy was on personal leave during this semester.
Emily is an MSc student at the University of Alberta, working in Dr. Scott Nielsen’s Applied Ecology Lab. Emily’s research is primarily focused in the Yellowhead Bear Management Area in west-central Alberta, looking specifically at the surrogacy effects of grizzly bears on songbirds – or in other words, whether grizzly bear habitat conservation can also protect songbirds. For small scale analyses of this effect, her research is conducted using autonomous recording units to collect audio data at small sites – to compare birds at grizzly bear use locations and at nearby non-use locations. To look at this effect in larger areas, her research will focus on more of a computer modelling approach. Having worked in songbird research and conservation as a bander and public educator during and after her undergraduate program at the University of Alberta, this project was a natural connection between her passion for ornithology and ecology and the goals of the PAW Project. When not working hard at her project, Emily enjoys volunteering at a local animal shelter as well as helping out with songbird and owl banding at a non-profit research station whenever possible.
Ethan Berman is researching grizzly bear movement and behavior in response to snow dynamics. He is an MSc candidate under the supervision of Dr. Nicholas Coops at the University of British Columbia. Snow is an important environmental variable within grizzly bear habitat in Alberta. Snow dictates where food is available, and therefore may influence whether grizzly bears choose to spend time in low elevation areas (with more human activity) or higher elevation areas (with less human activity). Ethan will be examining connections between snow conditions and den locations, as well as where bears are moving on the landscape based on snow cover. He hypothesizes that bears will move towards snow free environments in the spring and early summer months, in order to find higher quality food. The connections he draws could help to influence management decisions to limit access to key locations during periods of bear den emergence and snow melt.
Up to this point in his research Ethan has focused on developing a remote sensing snow cover product that will be used in coordination with the grizzly bear GPS collar data. The snow product will provide daily 30×30 meter fractional snow covered area (fSCA), which is essentially the percentage of ground that is snow covered on any given day within a 30×30 meter area. Ethan has written an algorithm to create the product, and has been collecting ground validation data throughout the Yellowhead region to assess how good it is. The new snow product seems to match up quite well with the ground data, and Ethan is excited to now use it to draw connections to grizzly bear behavior.
Figure 1. Exanple of fSCA in Yellowhead Region – April 24, 2009
At the October AGM, the idea of having a resource planning workshop was brought up by industry. The resource planning workshop will bring together PAW researchers and industrial partners to show PAW researchers the resource planning process for different industries in the Yellowhead region.
We are currently planning this workshop and will set a date once we have the availability of industrial people. If possible, we will plan this in conjunction with the Grizzly-PAW Field Day. We expect that both these events will happen in April or May this year.