Grizzly PAW V3 Issue 1 (Oct 2018)




Grizzly PAW’s Electronic Newsletter
Vol. 3, Issue 1. Date: 10/5/2018

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Previous Issue

Welcome to the Fall edition of Tracks.
There have been some changes in researchers this summer, with two departures and one arrival. First off, congratulations to Mathieu Bourbonnais, who successfully defended his PhD this August. With his work on Q3A.1 complete, he has taken a position at the University of British Columbia, Okanagan. At University of Alberta, Sean Coogan (Q2.1) resigned from his position. We wish both researchers luck in the future.
I would like to welcome our newest researcher, Dr. Abbey Wilson, who came from Mississippi State University. She will be working on Q3B.1 (Physiological Markers) with Dr. David Janz at the University of Saskatchewan.

In this edition:


Research Update


Q1.1 Broad Scale Mapping of ecoAnthromes / Road detection

Sean coordinated with fRI Research to deploy tablets, using an app to collect data on raod conditions in the Pembina region of Yellowhead. In addition, he began analysis of Landsat time series data and GPS telemetry data from collared grizzly bears to evaluate habitat selection after forest disturbance.

He also revised and resubmitted his EcoAnthrome mapping manuscript and presented results from this work at the 2018 Annual Meeting for the Canadian Society of Ecology and Evolution in Guelph, ON.

Q1.2 Snow melt dynamics

Ethan published his first paper detailing methods of SNOWARP. He completed his analysis of SNOWARP to grizzly bear behaviour and movement and found evidence for bears selecting for areas with less snow cover.

Q1.3 Grizzly bear /song bird surrogacy

Emily Cicon completed professional development courses on thesis writing and statistical analysis. She is working on two chapters of her thesis. The first chapter investigates beta diversity of grizzly-bear use vs. non-use sites. The second chapter adds grizzly bear and caribou core habitat in remts of richness of all songbirds.

Q2.1 Yellowhead grizzly bear population demographic analysis

Sean Coogan resigned from Grizzly-PAW on July 31st. We are currently recruiting for a researcher to complete the research.

Q2.2 Modelling and simulating grizzly bear food supply

Chris Souliere finalized results and started writing a manuscript on food supply in fire in cutblocks. He also began work on individual-based modeling and programming in NetLogo.

Q3A.1 Bear Movement

Mathieu Bourbonnais successfully defended his PhD thesis in August and submitted his revised thesis prior to the end of August. Research on this question has now been completed.

Q3A.2 Forest structure and movement

Brandon Prehn completed his first analysis of bear movements. He presented at the IBA conference in September, in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Q3A.3 Phenology of grizzly bear foods and their relationship to movement

Cam McClelland spent four weeks collecting field data in the Yellowhead region. To help with processing data, he developed a data fusion algorithm and worked on scripts to analyse camera data.

Q3A.4 Grizzly bear movement and roads

Since starting at PAW in May, Bethany Arndt set up her thesis committee, began background research on and started work on her research proposal.

Q3A.5 Contextualizing movement and roads

Dr. Greg Rickbeil will start working on Q3A.5 in December, 2018. Greg has a strong background in remote sensing. He did his PhD at UBC and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California in Berkeley.

Q3B.1 Physiological Markers

Abbey Wilson started research in mid-August. After familiarizing herself with the work done by Lucy Kapronczai, Abbey analyzed proteins in Uniprot and compared those with proteins from our grizzly-bear samples to identify potential protein bio-markers.


Finance Update


Last January, NSERC informed us about their concern over the lack of in-kind support in Grizzly-PAW. To address this issue, we proposed to restructure the Grizzly-PAW project to reduce the NSERC contribution and to alter the target numbers for in-kind support. This proposal was approved by all industrial partners and is currently under review at NSERC.

Feature Researcher


Interestingly enough, Brandon’s first remote sensing job was doing IED/weapons cache denial using a ground penetrating radar system with the US Army in Kandahar, Afghanistan. A bit of a (bad) jokester, he loves to joke that it was not quite remote enough, so he went to school and began studying lidar and satellite imagery. His better half is Christina, a volunteer and part time science communicator at the UBC Botanical Garden and Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Together, they enjoy travelling and seeing the world, learning about other cultures and trying to experience as many varieties of BBQ as possible. The unofficial BBQ Corporal of the IRSS lab, he is a connoisseur of smoked meats. His research is focused on characterizing grizzly bear habitat with lidar, and while initially he had quite a bit of trouble wrapping his head around the project and the concept, his trip to Ljubljana, Slovenia this fall helped him synthesize his knowledge and has motivated him to continue work with wildlife after he finishes his Master’s degree here at UBC. His results indicate that edge habitat is much more important than he initially thought, as grizzly bears do not appear to display much selection for certain canopy cover conditions (forest height alone is a good predictor of grizzly bear movements). He welcomes any feedback from the people supporting the Grizzly-PAW research, and would love to grab a beer with you sometime.


Research Snapshot

Emily Cicon is researching Q.1.3 (Grizzly Bears and Biodiversity) under the supervision of Dr. Scott Nielsen at the University of Alberta. A proposed solution to the issue of complex multi-species management is the use of species surrogacy. Broadly, species surrogacy uses one species as a proxy for one or many other species (Hunter et al 2016). It is therefore viewed as a management “shortcut” (Simberloff 1998). More specifically, surrogacy can be broken into categories such as flagship and umbrella species, the former of which uses a charismatic species to symbolize a wider reaching conservation plan, and the latter a species whose conservation requires large tracts of land – both theoretically encapsulating other species (Simberloff 1998).

Using grizzly bears as the focal surrogate species, Emily is examining the potential of using the conservation of this Threatened species as a means of aiding in the conservation of songbirds in the province of Alberta.

Two different approaches are being taken to address this question. Firstly, surrogacy effects are examined within BMA 3 on a small, “localized scale”, where bird diversity is measured at specific grizzly bear use locations based on GPS collar data using autonomous recording units (Figure 1). Recordings were taken at sites of known grizzly use and are being compared to recordings taken at nearby non-use (random) sites.

Secondly, Emily is examining the umbrella effect using existing models of bird abundance in Alberta to examine bird and grizzly relationships across larger areas, such as the entire provincial range of bears with bird composition assessed within individual home range-sized polygons. This second approach also incorporates the concept of flagship species, comparing the efficacy of grizzly bears to that of other flagship species in Alberta (woodland caribou and greater sage grouse). This involves comparing planning units that would be associated with each species in terms of not only which species’ provincial range would best suit a bird conservation initiative, but also how the size of the planning units associated with each species would encapsulate bird diversity. More specific scenarios, such as the comparison of species’ core habitat or the comparison between bear management areas, are also being undertaken to broaden the applicability of the research findings.

Grizzly-PAW Y2 AGM

The 2nd Grizzly-PAW AGM will be held in Hinton, AB on Oct. 18th. On the 19th, we will also visit some of our field sites with our researchers, who will provide some explanation on their data collection and answer questions. More information can be found on our website:

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