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New paper on the brown bear females using humans as shields to mediate sexual conflicts

news26 Steyaert et al Selecting the right habitat in a risky landscape is crucial for an individual's survival and reproduction. In predator–prey systems, prey often can anticipate the habitat use of their main predator and may use protective associates (i.e. typically an apex predator) as shields against predation. Authors assessed the relationship between offspring survival and habitat selection, as well as the use of protective associates, in a system in which sexually selected infanticide, rather than interspecific predation, affects offspring survival. Researchers used the Scandinavian brown bear population living in a human-dominated landscape as a model system. Bears, especially adult males, generally avoid humans in our study system. Authors analyzed data gathered between 2005 and 2012 from GPS-collared brown bear mothers which cubs survived and not survived during the mating seasons. Habitat selection was a predictor of litter survival. Successful mothers were more likely to use humans as protective associates, whereas unsuccessful mothers avoided humans.

More info: Steyaert S.M.J.G., Leclerc M., Pelletier F., Kindberg J., Brunberg S., Swenson J.E., Zedrosser A. 2016. Human shields mediate sexual conflict in a top predator. Proc. R. Soc. B 283: 20160906.