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Keywords:

  • ArcGIS;
  • distribution;
  • Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem;
  • grizzly bear;
  • kriging;
  • range extent;
  • Ursus arctos

ABSTRACT

The distribution of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem grizzly bear (Ursus arctos) population has expanded into areas unoccupied since the early 20th century. Up-to-date information on the area and extent of this distribution is crucial for federal, state, and tribal wildlife and land managers to make informed decisions regarding grizzly bear management. The most recent estimate of grizzly bear distribution (2004) utilized fixed-kernel density estimators to describe distribution. This method was complex and computationally time consuming and excluded observations of unmarked bears. Our objective was to develop a technique to estimate grizzly bear distribution that would allow for the use of all verified grizzly bear location data, as well as provide the simplicity to be updated more frequently. We placed all verified grizzly bear locations from all sources from 1990 to 2004 and 1990 to 2010 onto a 3-km × 3-km grid and used zonal analysis and ordinary kriging to develop a predicted surface of grizzly bear distribution. We compared the area and extent of the 2004 kriging surface with the previous 2004 effort and evaluated changes in grizzly bear distribution from 2004 to 2010. The 2004 kriging surface was 2.4% smaller than the previous fixed-kernel estimate, but more closely represented the data. Grizzly bear distribution increased 38.3% from 2004 to 2010, with most expansion in the northern and southern regions of the range. This technique can be used to provide a current estimate of grizzly bear distribution for management and conservation applications. © 2013 The Wildlife Society.