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Modeling Grizzly Bear Density using LANDFIRE Data: NW Montana

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Photo of grizzly bear

Overview:

The Northern Continental Divide grizzly bear population in northwest Montana is one of six threatened populations identified in the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Grizzly Bear Recovery Plan. Whereas previous grizzly bear research in this region focused on specific issues in small areas – such as habitat use or the effects of roads on bears – little is known about the status of the population as a whole. The primary objectives of the Northern Divide Grizzly Bear Project (NDGBP) were to use non-invasive sampling and deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) analysis of grizzly bear hair to: 1) develop a statistically rigorous estimate of grizzly bear population size and 2) assess variation in the density of bears. This project combined multiple variables that cover the entire study area, such as vegetation type and successional state, into a map with which to assess grizzly bear habitat quality.

Of the vegetation maps considered for use in this analysis, the LANDFIRE Project’s vegetation layers best met project requirements. LANDFIRE provided the most accurate data covering the entire study area with a resolution appropriate for multi-scale analysis. In addition, the classification system used by LANDFIRE is relevant to bear ecology.

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