To describe the maintenance process of matrilineal site fidelity in large, solitary mammals, we investigated both the site fidelity over time and the effect of kinship on the space use at a fine (home range) scale under different levels of food availability. We collected location data for female Asian black bears, Ursus thibetanus, using GPS collars and identified microsatellite DNA markers from bears in the Ashio-Nikko Mountains, Japan. We investigated autumn food resources by assessing hard mast productivity. We found high site fidelity over the years from the denning to summer season, and there was spatial proximity among related females (i.e., mother—daughter, grandmother—granddaughter, and sister—sister pairs) from spring to summer and through mid-autumn in moderate/good hard mast years. In autumns of poor hard mast years, although females used sites far from their primary home ranges, they returned to sites near their primary range before den entry. In habitats, where good denning habitat is spatially close to the spring and summer range, maternal communities may range throughout the area during the denning, spring, and summer seasons. When matrilineal site fidelity was suspended during poor mast years, it was reformed by the end of autumn.
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Vol. 42 • No. 4