Abundance and density estimation of the central Georgia black bear population
Sylvest, Joshua Thomas
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We used DNA-based capture-mark-recapture techniques to estimate sex-specific abundance of black bears in central Georgia. We conducted hair sampling over 2 8-week periods during the summers of 2012 and 2013 and analyzed capture histories of individual bears identified via microsatellite genotyping. We used program MARK to evaluate a set of candidate models incorporating various effects of time, behavior, and heterogeneity. There was considerable model selection uncertainty in 2012, whereas the top model in 2013 had 99% model support. The model-averaged abundance estimate for 2012 was N = 98 (SE = 62) for males and N = 70 (SE = 16) for females. In 2013, we used the top model to derive abundance estimates of N = 70 (SE=18) for males and N = 69 (SE = 18) for females. These results can be used to inform future management decisions regarding the central Georgia black bear population.