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Previous studies have recognized bromeliads as a key food resource for Andean bears (Tremarctos ornatus) throughout their range. However, it is still not clear how abundance and especially the nutritional value of bromeliads influence habitat and diet selection. Understanding this is essential because conflicts such as crop damage occur when available natural resources cannot offer an adequate nutritional supply. During June and July 2017, we studied 6 forest and páramo areas in southern Ecuador for signs of bear presence, the abundance and nutritional value of bromeliads, and diet selection by fecal microhistology. The nutritional composition of bromeliads was affected by flowering and recent fire events but we found greater variability across species and ecosystems, with higher protein and lower fiber in páramo. However, bears were more often present in the forest ecosystem, and moreover, their presence was not affected by abundance nor composition of bromeliads. Further similar studies must focus on other key resources, such as temporary fruits.
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