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Andean bear Tremarctos ornatus natural history and conservation

Authors

  • Shaenandhoa GARCÍA-RANGEL

    Corresponding author
    1. Wildlife Research Group, The Anatomy School, University of Cambridge, Cambridge CB2 3DY, United Kingdom. E-mail: sgarciarangel@usb.ve
      Departamento de Estudios Ambientales, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Valle de Sartenejas, Caracas, 1086 Estado Miranda, Venezuela
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Departamento de Estudios Ambientales, Universidad Simón Bolívar, Valle de Sartenejas, Caracas, 1086 Estado Miranda, Venezuela

ABSTRACT

  • 1A wealth of information has been generated for the Andean bear Tremarctos ornatus during the past four decades, and a thorough review of the species' natural history, ecology and conservation is provided here.
  • 2The Andean bear is the only remaining bear species in South America. Evolutionarily, it is the youngest of all ursids and the only remnant taxon within the subfamily Tremarctinae. The species is distributed throughout the Andes mountain range from Venezuela to Bolivia, but the limits of its current and past range are uncertain.
  • 3The species is polyestrous, capable of delayed implantation and a facultative seasonal breeder. Genetic information is scarce, and species-specific markers need to be developed for a more appropriate assessment of the genetic structure of wild populations.
  • 4Andean bears inhabit a wide variety of habitats across the Andes including different forest types and high-elevation grasslands. They are omnivorous with a frugivorous/folivorous emphasis that is reflected by adaptations of the typical tremarctine mandible.
  • 5Andean bears are vulnerable to extinction due to land conversion and poaching. Efforts have been made to protect them, but threats have not been reduced significantly. Therefore, the species is expected to move faster towards extinction than any other carnivore in the region.
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