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Grizzly bears, black bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars/ mountain lions,bobcats, wolverines, lynx, foxes, fishers and martens are the suite of carnivores that originally inhabited North America after the Pleistocene extinctions. This site invites research, commentary, point/counterpoint on that suite of native animals (predator and prey) that inhabited The Americas circa 1500-at the initial point of European exploration and subsequent colonization. Landscape ecology, journal accounts of explorers and frontiersmen, genetic evaluations of museum animals, peer reviewed 20th and 21st century research on various aspects of our "Wild America" as well as subjective commentary from expert and layman alike. All of the above being revealed and discussed with the underlying goal of one day seeing our Continent rewilded.....Where big enough swaths of open space exist with connective corridors to other large forest, meadow, mountain, valley, prairie, desert and chaparral wildlands.....Thereby enabling all of our historic fauna, including man, to live in a sustainable and healthy environment. - Blogger Rick

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Tuesday, August 5, 2014

U. of Missouri biologists are studying the Black Bears in the region known as the Central Interior Highlands, the tri-state area of Missouri, Oklahoma and Arkansas.......................Thought to have been extirpated from this area by 1920, it is now revealed that a remnant population did survive and then was revitalized in the 1950's when 250 Bruins from Minnesota and Manitoba, Canada were transplanted here..............The Study goes on to say that conservation efforts to promote forest connectivity will help protect bears throughout the region, so that subpopulations are not isolated, as was the case previously in Missouri.......

Scientists call for increased conservation efforts to save black bears

posted by news on august 5, 2014 - 1:00pm

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Between 1880 and 1920, the
 Interior Highlands (CIH), consisting of Missouri,
and Arkansas, saw the height of deforestation that
 the habitat for black bears and other forest
 species. To
 the decline of black bears and repopulate the
region, more than 250 bears from Minnesota and
 were relocated to Arkansas in the 1950s and 1960s.
Now, researchers at the University of Missouri have
 genetic diversity in black bears in the CIH and have
determined that coordinated conservation management
is still needed to maintain healthy populations of black
 in the region.

"The focus of our study was to determine the effects
 of the reintroduction of black bears in the Ozark and
Ouachita Mountains and how that reintroduction affected
 population genetics in the region," said Emily Puckett,
a doctoral candidate in the Division of Biological Sciences
at MU. "We also wanted to determine if we could find
evidence of the population that was formerly here and
whether or not they mated with the reintroduced
bears or if they had gone locally extinct following
Study results suggested that black bears were present
 throughout the CIH in the 1920s, contrary to
previous beliefs. Current research indicates that the
bears had a remnant lineage in the northern Ozarks of
Missouri, Puckett said.
Additionally, the team found that current black
 bears went through a brief "bottleneck," where bears
were cut off from each other and genetic diversity was
reduced. However, the team also determined that the
 reintroduction of bears to the CIH in the 1950s and
1960s helped to restore diversity and increase
population size in the Ozarks and Ouachitas.
"We observed the genetic signature of the Ozark
 population from Arkansas in Missouri, meaning that
 the bears moved north," said Puckett. "These bears
 bring with them their higher genetic diversity
which may help Missouri's bear population in the
 future. The movement north also indicates that
 formerly fragmented forests may have regrown
 thereby connecting Missouri bears to the
Ozark subpopulation that was further south."

Puckett analyzed genetic diversity in black bears in
the CIH and determined that coordinated conservation
management is still needed to maintain healthy
 populations of black bears in the region.
(Photo Credit: Melody Kroll)

Puckett and her team including Lori Eggert, associate
 professor of biological sciences in MU's College of Arts
 and Science, and Jeff Beringer from the Missouri
Department of Conservation, collected and analyzed
DNA samples from black bears from five geographical
 locations. Hair samples from Arkansas, Oklahoma
 and Missouri were analyzed. Additionally, blood
samples from hibernating bears in Minnesota and
 tissue samples from Manitoba were examined for
their genetic signatures.
"This represented one of the largest sample sizes
 in a study of this type," Eggert said. "By using
multiple genetic markers on samples collected
from Missouri and Arkansas, hunted bears in
Oklahoma and live dens in Manitoba, we were
able to conduct genetic and statistical analyses
 to analyze trends and gain robust conclusions."
The team suggests that conservation efforts
 to promote forest connectivity will help protect
bears throughout the region, so that subpopulations
 are not isolated, as was the case in Missouri, and
genetic diversity remains high. State agencies in
Arkansas, Oklahoma and Missouri could work
 together to unify bear management since this
study observed populations spanning state borders.
"Geneticists get concerned when populations have
 low genetic diversity," Puckett said. "Low diversity
 can be indicative of low population size. When
 harmful mutations arise in a gene pool with
low diversity, they may increase in frequency
leading to poor fitness and health in the
 population. That's why these management
 suggestions are so important."

The study, "Influence of drift and admixture
 on population structure of American black bears
 (Ursus americanus) in the Central Interior
 Highlands, USA, 50 years after translocation,"
was published in the journal Molecular Ecology.
 Funding for the project was provided by the
Missouri Department of Conservation, Arkansas
Game and Fish Commission, U.S. Fish and
Wildlife Service, and Safari Club International.
Source: University of Missouri-Columbia

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