Cooperative Research Units
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Conservation Genetics and Population Dynamics of Black Bears in Arizona


January 2006 - December 2017


Goal: Examine black bear evolution in Arizona, current genetic structure among populations, and bear movements among sky islands of Arizona and northern Mexico. Fragmentation or perturbation of a species habitat can lead to genetic changes among the separate populations. Frequently these changes can have adverse implications for the conservation of the species. There is increasing concern about the long-term survival of black bear Ursus americanus populations in Arizona and the southwest deserts. In southwest deserts, black bear habitat occurs in mountain “sky islands” which are separated by a “sea” of desert and grasslands. A continuous and careful monitoring of connectivity among sky islands and management units is important to ensure the black bear’s continued existence in the southwest deserts of North America. Molecular markers (mitochondrial DNA and microsatellites) will be used to perform the genetic analyses on the black bear samples. These molecular markers can determine the amount of gene flow, as well as estimate the genetic variability, population size, amount of inbreeding and pairwise genetic distances among populations. This analysis of genetic structure of southwestern bear populations, from historical times through current populations, will be used to understand the ecological factors that may be influencing the long-term survival of black bears in the southwest desert habitats, and aid resource agencies to improve black bear population management.


Current Staff

Federal Staff: 102

Masters Students: 247

Phd Students: 163

Post Docs: 55

University Staff: 266

5 Year Summary

Students graduated: 722

Scientific Publications: 1960

Presentations: 4355



Funding Agencies

  • Arizona Game & Fish Dept.


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