Protecting Grizzlies in Huckleberry Country

In April, we shared an article about  research ecologist Tabitha Graves and biologist Nate Michael mapping out huckleberry patches in Glacier National Park: Locating Huckleberries from Space.

As an update, Graves and Michael’s research is also used to protect the grizzly bear population. shares the background for this research:

Tracking where huckleberry plants live now—and where they may move under climate change—would also help biologProtecting Grizzlies in Huckleberry Countryists predict where to find grizzly bears…

“The inspiration behind the research was to map huckleberry patches to identify and protect areas of prime grizzly bear habitat,” says lead author Carolyn Shores, a doctoral student in the University of Washington School of Environmental and Forest Sciences, who also works as a caribou biologist for British Columbia’s fish and wildlife agency.

“Grizzlies depend on huckleberries as a main source of food in late summer, and huckleberry distribution may be shifting with climate change.”

An article on the Montana Public Radio website explains further:

A new study mapping huckleberries in Glacier National Park could help grizzlies thrive in the area, and figure out how the tasty fruits respond to a changing climate. …

“What we’re trying to do is really set the foundation for understanding the distribution of the species and how it changes across time,” says Tabitha Graves, a research ecologist with U.S. Geological Survey and senior author on the study, which was published in the International Journal of Remote Sensing. …

Grizzlies are federally listed as threatened, and Glacier is part of the largest habitat for the bears in the lower 48. So this study is crucial to figuring out how to help the animals thrive, and to avoid conflicts with people. And Graves says the berries are also important for other animals like bees and birds and, of course, people too.

Graves says the satellite research, which is still in the works, can also be used to map other kinds scrubs — especially those that change colors with the seasons.





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