Our primary method is to follow individual female bears and their female offspring from birth to death, thus creating pedigrees, many of which now cover five generations. Since the project started in 1984, our research has expanded and new techniques, such as genetics and GPS telemetry, are giving us the possibility to answer new and important questions.
Presently, our basic research is concentrated on understanding the following:
- the social organization of female and male bears, including chemical communication
- the mating system, including the role of MHC (major histocompatibility complex) in mate choice and the role of sexually selected infanticide
- life history strategies (growth and reproduction)
- population ecology, including the individuals’ contribution to population growth
- genetics, including spatial genetic relationships and heritability of traits
- general physiology, including cooperation with researchers working on human physiology questions.
Our more applied research questions often give us answers to basic questions as well. Our present applied research is concentrated on
- the demographic and evolutionary effects of hunting harvest on bear populations
- estimating the size and trends of bear populations
- the effects of human presence on bear behavior and habitat use
- the brown bear as a danger to humans
- the short- and long-term effects of capture and marking of bears
- the effects of use of baiting on bear harvest
- the direct and indirect negative effects of bears on free-ranging livestock.
- bears as a predator on semi-domestic reindeer