photo by Adam Wajrak

Brown bears are sweet-tooth gardeners

Brown bears like sugar-rich foods such as fruits, Yogi the bear and Boo Boo already taught us all. However, we still do not know much about how good is for a fruit to be eaten by a bear.

An international group of researchers led by Alberto García-Rodríguez from the Institute of Nature Conservation (Polish Academy of Sciences) compiled information about the number of fruit species and their importance in the diet of brown bears from 96 populations of Europe, Asia and North America. The researchers also analyzed the effects of brown bear ingestion in the germination of seeds of 11 different fruit species commonly eaten by bears in central Europe. They found that brown bears consume more than a hundred different species of fruits worldwide and that these fruits represent a quarter of the brown bears’ annual diet. The seeds of these fruits are usually defecated undamaged and most of them may germinate.

Furthermore, specific bear behaviours such as digging next to their beds may create the ideal conditions for seed germination. With other large frugivores being scarce or even absent in temperate and northern areas, brown bears are likely to play an essential contribution to plant population dynamics as they are responsible for most of the long-distance seed dispersal events.

Link to the paper: