Although there is growing evidence that ambient temperatures influence animal behaviour, the role of environmental conditions and thermoregulation on large mammals is still poorly understood. Here, we observed that grizzly bears seem to modify foraging behaviour in response to thermal constraints by increasingly foraging during cool periods, and by seeking alternative, thermally adequate foraging opportunities. In the context of climate change, thermally driven habitat selection and behavioural responses will undoubtedly have implications for the long-term conservation of vulnerable populations as increased frequency of extreme climatic events expected under future climate scenarios, including heat waves and droughts, could exacerbate the thermoregulatory constraints of large mammals. Our research provides the necessary first steps towards understanding the influence of ambient temperature on patterns of habitat selection for grizzly bears, and on the potential impacts of climate change on the ecology of bears. This research highlights the need to consider availability of thermal cover while developing management strategies aimed at minimizing the impacts of landscape modifications on animal populations in the context of climate change, and in a world where landscape change is pervasive.
Pigeon KE, E Cardinal, GB Stenhouse, SD Côté (2016) Staying cool in a changing landscape: The influence of maximum daily ambient temperature on grizzly bear habitat selection. Oecologia. 181: 1101 – 1116