Project “GLOBE”

Project GLOBE (Global climate change and its impact on brown bear populations: Predicting trends and identifying management priorities) realised under the Polish-Norwegian Research Programme

GLOBE (“Global climate change and its impact on brown bear populations: Predicting trends and identifying management priorities”) was an interdisciplinary project coordinated by the Institute of Nature Conservation, Polish Academy of Sciences in Kraków, and completed by researchers from the Norwegian University of Life Sciences, University College of Southeast Norway (previously Telemark University College), the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research and the Warsaw Ecological Economics Center, University of Warsaw. The GLOBE project had five Work Packages (WP) dealing with specific aspects of brown bear conservation and management that may be potentially affected by climate change: winter ecology (WP1); foraging ecology (WP2); physiological state and stress ecology (WP3); and socio-economic aspects and human-bear relations (WP4). WP5 dealt with the project coordination and management and the dissemination of results, mostly through the project website www.globeproject.pl.

Climate change and human-driven changes in the habitat are among the main threats to biodiversity. Boreal and alpine regions are likely to be especially affected by climate change, particularly in Europe. We took the brown bear inhabiting these regions as a model species and indicator of ongoing climate and environmental changes. The brown bear is the largest terrestrial carnivore in Europe and a generalist species of a wide trophic and climatic niche. To assess how interacting climate and human-related factors affect key aspects of generalist species is highly relevant for brown bear ecology and conservation, and also for understanding the mechanisms of species adaptation to global change. GLOBE has filled that gap by providing scientific evidence of climate and human-induced changes in the winter, foraging and stress ecology of the species, as well as in human-bear relations. This has important practical implications for species conservation and management and is relevant for environmental agencies and nature and wildlife managers.

It is early to conclude that all long-term goals are achieved. Although we are still working and getting deeper into some of the questions, all project specific goals were achieved to a certain extent, as reflected by the number of publications, achieved deliverables (23 databases, 4 reports, 3 studies in progress) and activities related to the dissemination of the project results. The output of the WPs included 21 publications, 10 submitted manuscripts and 7 under preparation. We also published 2 popular articles and had more than 50 stories about project results covered by various media (newspapers, TV, internet scientific services) and 18 presentations in scientific meetings. We also involved researchers in several training courses and research stays and a total of 16 master and PhD students participated in research conducted total or partially under the GLOBE project.

GLOBE has involved a wide and multidisciplinary network of collaborators and researchers (more than 30) and has established a solid cooperation among the teams. The project has greatly contributed to increase the public knowledge on bear ecology and conservation, and to raise awareness about the effects of climate change and human activities on brown bear populations. GLOBE has been crucial in supporting the continuation of the long-term research under the Scandinavian Brown Bear Research Project and in building and consolidating the Polish research team.