Grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) have been reported as either nocturnal or diurnal in various studies, but have not been known to switch between the 2 times unless disturbed by humans. Black bears (Ursus americanus) are almost solely diurnal in studies unless human influences occur. Because human disturbance is often difficult to control, the relative temporal niche of both species remains ill-defined. Thus, the present study examined bears in Yellowstone National Park (Wyoming) where hunting does not occur, human activities are relatively benign, and bear species are sympatric to determine if niche occupancy was a stable feature of the species. Onset of activity was anticipatory of both sunrise or morning civil twilight (illumination sufficient for human vision) for individuals of either species. The peak hour of activity in black bears was consistently midday, but fluctuated in grizzly bears from midday during early spring, late summer, and fall to evening during late spring and early summer. Black bears did not temporally avoid the times when the more dominant grizzly bears were active. Mean activity levels were higher for male black bears than for both male and female grizzly bears. Together, results suggest that the foraging needs of black bears necessitate ingestion of less-digestible, lower-quality foods requiring longer foraging time during daytime hours, whereas grizzly bears adapt their diet to seasonally available food sources, necessitating greater temporal flexibility.
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