Title: “A habitat model for brown bear in the Polish Carpathians and Bieszczady mountains: implications for species conservation, forest management and land use planning”.
Project leader: Zbigniew Jakubiec.
Summary: The Polish population of brown bears Ursus arctos is small (rough estimation of about 100 individuals) and its distribution is limited to the Carpathian mountains. Habitat loss and human access to bear habitat have been recently considered as the major threats for the species in Poland. The main goal of this project is to develop a model of habitat suitability for brown bear at a landscape (Polish Carpathians) and a local scale (Bieszczady mountains). We want to identify bear habitat requirements in a wide sense (food, escape cover and den sites), to determine the present state of the population, and to identify areas of high conservation value, conflictive areas, and areas with unoccupied potential habitat. We will analyse the influence of natural (landscape attributes, food availability) and human-related variables (human presence and activities) on the survival, reproduction and wintering of bears. The main methods will include satellite telemetry and GIS analysis. The seasonal use of habitat types within home ranges will be investigated in relation to changes in bear diet and the temporal availability and distribution of main food items. This project is very applied and aimed at developing a habitat-based management strategy for the conservation of bears. It will provide essential information for the design of conservation measures for the species, as well as for assessing the consequences of planned or ongoing changes in land use and minimising human-bear conflicts.