A greater understanding of how environmental factors and anthropogenic landscape features influence animal movements can inform management and potentially aid in mitigating human-wildlife conflicts. We investigated the movement patterns of 16 Florida black bears (Ursus americanus floridanus; 6 females, 10 males) in northcentral Florida at multiple temporal scales using GPS data collected from 2011 to 2014. We calculated bi-hourly step-lengths and directional persistence, as well as daily and weekly observed displacements and expected displacements. We used those movement metrics as response variables in linear mixed models and tested for effects of sex, season, and landscape features. We found that step-lengths of males were generally longer than step-lengths of females, and both sexes had the shortest step-lengths during the daytime. Bears moved more slowly (shorter step-lengths) and exhibited less directed movement when near creeks, in forested wetlands, and in marsh habitats, possibly indicating foraging behavior. In urban areas, bears moved more quickly (longer steplengths) and along more directed paths. The results were similar across all temporal scales. Major roads tended to act as a semipermeable barrier to bear movement. Males crossed major roads more frequently than females but both sexes crossed major roads much less frequently than minor roads. Our findings regarding the influence of landscape and habitat features on movement patterns of Florida black bears could be useful for planning effective wildlife corridors and understanding how future residential or commercial development and road expansions may affect animal movement.
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Vol. 98 • No. 5