MAR 27, 2018 07:46 PM PDT

Are Brown Bear Cubs Staying Close to Their Mothers for Longer?

Brown bear cubs, like many other baby animals found throughout the animal kingdom, stay close to their mothers until they’ve learned how to survive alone in the wilderness. How long they stay close ranges from one animal species to the next.

Brown bear cubs in Sweden's forests are spending more time with their mothers than ever before.

Image Credit: Pixabay

Researchers from the University of Sherbrooke in Quebec, Canada say they’ve observed an unexpected shift in brown bear cub behavior in Swedish forests. In particular, they appear to be spending more time with their mothers than ever before.

The findings, which have been published this week in the journal Nature Communications, come forth after the researchers analyzed 22 years’ worth of Scandinavian brown bear-related reproduction and survival records.

Related: Wolves eat less when they compete with brown bears for food

So just how much time are we talking about here? According to the study, approximately one full year. Throughout the 1980’s, cubs spent about one and a half years with their mothers. But as time progressed, that timespan purportedly increased to an average of two and a half years.

The researchers cite local bear hunting trends as a potential driver for the change. Swedish laws prevent hunters from tackling bear mothers that have cubs, so this behavior may have turned into a survival mechanism for mothers that cling to their young for more extended periods. Consequently, more of these mothers survive, and this trait gets passed on through genetics from generation to generation.

"For females, if you leave your cubs at one year and a half, then you become a target during the next hunting season," elaborated Fanie Pelletier, a co-author of the study. "But if you stay for a bit longer with your cubs, you're protected an extra year. The hunting is filtering out the females that keep their young for a smaller amount of time."

Related: Genetic adaptions may help polar bears stay warm

The study only considers brown bear populations in Sweden, so it fails to capture the big picture of bear populations around the globe. On the other hand, it underscores how human influence can change animal behavior drastically (sometimes in ways that impact its survival).

Similar trends may exist elsewhere on the planet where comparable hunting laws limit bear hunting practices, so the study leaves an open-ended question that researchers could investigate further in the future.

Source: BBC

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
NOV 19, 2018
Videos
NOV 19, 2018
The Amazon's worst enemy
Brazil has a new leader, and he could be the Amazon’s biggest enemy yet. President Jair Bolsonaro has pledged to sell off large portions of the rainf...
NOV 28, 2018
Plants & Animals
NOV 28, 2018
Does Predation Drive the Interspecific Relationship Between Anemones and Clownfish?
Interspecific mutualism – when two different animal species depend on one another for survival – can be found all around the globe. But perhaps...
NOV 29, 2018
Microbiology
NOV 29, 2018
Bacteria may Explain the Symbiotic Relationship of Anemones & Clownfish
Sea anemones normally kill and eat fish. But clownfish can nestle into anemones without getting stung....
DEC 24, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 24, 2018
Flock Support Proves Essential to Young Willow Tit Survival
Willow tits and other similarly small birds may have a lot to gain from finding and joining a flock early in life. A paper published just this week in the...
DEC 31, 2018
Plants & Animals
DEC 31, 2018
Conservationists Are Trying to Give the Elusive Madagascar Pochard a Second Chance
The Madagascar pochard is a duck species so elusive that conservationists once thought it was extinct. But in 2006, a team happened upon a small population...
JAN 15, 2019
Plants & Animals
JAN 15, 2019
Can Wildlife Habituate to Increased Drone Activity?
Animal conservationists use a variety of different techniques to survey vast landscapes and gather animal population data. Many conservationists conduct th...
Loading Comments...