We investigated growth and determinants of adult female body size in brown bears (Ursus arctos) in 2 study areas in Sweden. Scandinavian female brown bears reached 90% of their asymptotic size at 4.1–4.7 years. Four factors were considered in our analysis of the determinants of adult female size: annual food conditions, population density, multilocus heterozygosity, and yearling body size. Our results suggest that individual body size variation of female brown bears is negatively related to density-dependent factors and positively correlated to density-independent fluctuations in the environment. Density-dependent factors may operate by increasing competition for food, resulting in a decrease in body size. Food resources for brown bears in Sweden fluctuate annually in the boreal forest and influence individual body size. Multilocus heterozygosity and yearling body size were not important in explaining adult size, because initially smaller individuals show compensatory growth when experiencing good food conditions.
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