Studies of space use and habitat selection of endangered species are useful for identifying factors that influence fitness of individuals and viability of populations. However, there is a lack of published information regarding these behaviors for the federally threatened Louisiana black bear (Ursus americanus luteolus). We documented space use and habitat selection for 28 female black bears in 2 subpopulations of the Tensas River Basin population in northeast Louisiana, USA. The Tensas subpopulation inhabits a relatively large (>300-km2) contiguous area of bottomland hardwood forest, whereas the Deltic subpopulation exists mainly in 2 small (<7-km2) forested patches surrounded by an agricultural matrix. Females on Deltic maintained smaller seasonal and annual home ranges than females on Tensas (all P < 0.04), except for females with cubs during spring. On Tensas, females with cubs maintained smaller home ranges than females without cubs during spring (P = 0.01), but we did not detect this difference on Deltic or in other seasons. Females on Tensas and Deltic exhibited differences in habitat selection when establishing home ranges and within home ranges (P < 0.001). Deltic females selected mature bottomland hardwood forests and avoided agricultural habitats at both spatial scales. Tensas females selected a mixture of swamps, mature and regenerating forests, and exhibited variation in selection across scale, season, and reproductive status. We suggest that differences in space use and habitat selection between Tensas and Deltic are at least partially due to habitat differences at the landscape (i.e., amount of forested habitat) and patch (i.e., food availability) scales. Our results contribute to the understanding of factors that influence space use and habitat selection by black bears and provide specific information on habitat types selected by Louisiana black bears to agencies involved in habitat protection and restoration for this threatened subspecies.
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Vol. 71 • No. 1