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Biomass International Seminar 3-5 August 2009 Sheraton, Lampung, Indonesia

The  Important Role of Asiatic Black Bear

in the Seed Dispersal Process


Bainah Sari Dewi


Forestry Departement of Faculty of Agriculture 

Lampung University 




One of the wild Asiatic Black Bears was captured using GPS collar from August 19 to October 2, 2007 in Toyama Prefecture, Japan. The bear was captured to investigate its daily movement pattern in every three days using GPS collar record attached on the neck of bear.

 The result showed that food habit and movement pattern of the bears in Uozu, Toyama Prefecture were different within each three days, and one of the fleshy-fruited Cornus controversa seeds was detected as their preference food. The different movement pattern had strong influence on food availability in Toyama Prefecture. The GPS measurement indicated more than 771 location points, but only 387 locations points were successfully visited. It is shown that the Asiatic Black Bears consumed the most fleshy-fruits and moved farther compared to other wildlife. Subsequently, they are regarded as the first seed disperser.


Key words : Asiatic Black Bear, Movement Pattern, GPS, Cornus controversa.















The  Important Role of Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus)

in the Seed Dispersal Process


Bainah Sari Dewi


Forestry Departement of Faculty of Agriculture 

Lampung University 




Diurnal activity is the behavior of an animal that is active in the daytime (sunrise to sunset). And bears are primarily diurnal throughout their range (Craighead et al. 1995; Gilbert and Lanner 1995). There are number of studies of GPS activity sensor for animal (Burnham 1998, Dussault et al. 1999, D Eon 2003, Di Orio et al. 2003, Frair et al. 2004, Cain et al. 2005, D Eon 2005, Dauwalter et al. 2006, Munro 2006, Horne et al. 2007, Lewis 2007,). But especially for the research of Asiatic Black Bear in Toyama Prefecture area, it is one of the pioneer research.

It could not observe the Asiatic Black Bear directly. The GPS-collar is very convenient to chase the action of the Asiatic Black Bear. It is the toll which can chase a detailed action (Goto 2004, Arimoto 2008, Koike 2008). I had been chased feeding behavior of the Asiatic Black Bear with GPS- collar.

In this research, I investigated the diurnal movement pattern of Asiatic Black Bear for attach the fleshy fruit to help provide information on habitat needs for maintaining a heterogeneous plant community.



The study was conducted in August to October 2007 at Uozu, Toyama Prefecture, Japan. Toyama Prefecture is located approximately in the center of Honshu, Japan and is bordered by Niigata and Nagano Prefectures to the east, Gifu Prefecture to the south, and Ishikawa Prefecture to the west. Toyama is a topographically impressive prefecture. Mountains wall in the prefecture on three sides and the deep bay rests nestled in the crook formed by the rolling plains (Latitude: 36º16”N to 36º59”N, Longitude: 136º46”E to 137º46”E). Forest area in Uozu is Warm and Cool Temperate Deciduous Forest with an altitude and it located in the eastern part of Toyama Japan between Namerikawa and Kurobe, stretching from Toyama Bay and the Japan Sea in the northwest to high mountain ranges in the southeast. The highest mountains in Uozu are Sougadake and Kekachiyama, and the highest elevation in Uozu is 2,414 m. Several rapid rivers run through Uozu; from east to west, they are the Fuse River, the Katakai River, the Kado River, and the Hayatsuki River.

The methods to investigate the movement pattern of the Asiatic Black Bear in the Warm and Cool Temperate Deciduous Forest, Toyama Prefecture, consist of some steps. Barrel traps was set up in July 2007 to capture the bear. Two barrels were used and combined to one cage to capture for bear. The barrel has only one door and open for the gate of bear coming. By the gate which consist of VHF telemetry, I could detect the bear capture or not yet from 1-20 km in distance. In August 18 2007 one bear was captured the code UF 10 was given. On August 19 2007 on GPS collar and release, VHF Telemetry was done every 2 time a week, for checking the bear activity by GPS collar. In November 20 2007, the GPS collar was drop off and the GPS collar data was got. GPS collar was released. GPS  was connected the computer, and then the data had been downloaded using GPS 3000 host programming to analysis. Then the movement pattern of bear during the period of GPS collar was analyzed..


1.Field visitation to access GPS bear locations

Firstly, GPS locations had been combined with activity value which correspond to the GPS locations. Secondly, GPS locations of bouts continuing activity value ≧14 as active locations ,and act ≦13 as inactive locations had been defined, respectively.

Active points and inactive points were selected from bear daily movement trace; active points (inactive points) is defined as area that over 2 active (inactive) locations distribute in 20-m-radius area.

It was navigated to each active and inactive points using uploaded waypoints in handheld GPS units(Garmin GPS Map60CSx)Kumadana or scars on a tree had been remained bear’s active point.

According to Koike’s study (2008) which investigated retention time of Asiatic Black Bears, bears had retention time about 7 h for minimum and 16-18 h for excreting about 50%. Activity pattern of bears is fundamentally circadian and the ratio of active bouts to inactive bouts equal 1:1 (Arimoto, 2008). Accordingly, it is suggested that bears excrete of feces over 50% of food eaten during active bouts at inactive point during night. Then, food species identified and feeding period of GPS bear (UF10) by kumadana found at active points and feces found at inactive points. I was search for kumadana over a 20-m-radius area from center of active point and for feces over a10-m-raduis area from center of inactive point.


2.Definition of core area


I defined active bouts and inactive bouts; inactive bouts is from time that activity value ≦13 last 20 minute up to time activity value ≧14 last 20 minute up, and active bouts is the remainder.

To demonstrate the movement pattern of bears for searching food, I analyzed the distribution of active locations.

The methods were following.

1)The home range of bears was divided by 50-m-mesh. Then the active GPS location which

        locates at each mesh was counted.

2)I  calculated ”the expected value of frequency of mesh use (E)=the number of total GPS

        locations÷the number of total mesh used”.

        I defined “a core area” as the area that includes the 50-m-mesh which have GPS locations more than twice of expected value (A) and the 50-m-mesh which have more than expected value neighboring to A.

3)   I checked out the tree species which had bear marks at active point of each core area.






1. Relationship between distribution of fleshy fruits on kumadana and movement patterns of the Asiatic Black Bear


An activity sensor that abstracted GPS measuring points in working hours showed repeated areas as the living spaces zone of bears. Its up loaded the bear living zone in the GPS Map 60 CSX were explored. Record of the feces and life tracks which were found within 20 meters of the living zone. I clarified the GPS collar data by direct observation to the forest and I found Mizuki (Cornus controversa) trees as the stay point of bear there. Figure 1 was shown the distribution of fleshy fruits on kumadana on of Mizuki trees.

In location map of bear in activity research area, UF10 moved from one fleshy fruit of Mizuki to other fleshy fruit of Mizuki patch and visited the one fleshy fruit Mizuki patch repeatedly (Table 1).




















○    :Fleshy-fruits of Mizuki (Cornus controversa) trees  








.Figure 1. The distribution of Kumadana on Mizuki trees (Cornus controversa) in UF 10 Asiatic Black Bear on activity research area in Toyama Prefecture.


Square Mesh in square of 100 meters, positions of the Asiatic Black Bear in the natural  feeding habit  are followed by the data track recorder on GPS radio-collars.




Table 1. The date when Black Bear (UF10) used fleshy fruit of Mizuki (Cornus controversa) trees in “Core Area (A-G)” in Toyama Prefecture between August to September 2007.

Figure 2 shows that movement pattern/ travel route of the bear UF10 with GPS-collar every three days with distribution of fleshy fruit of Mizuki on kumadana. There are some patterns; moving from the fleshy fruit tree area to the other areas, settle down in a same fleshy fruit tree area repeatedly. Every three days the movement pattern of one Asiatic Black Bear was different. Core area was described in Figure 3, or the overlapping time of “went point” and “visit point” of bear in many repeating more than 2 times visiting mesh by recorded of GPS collar data in one place area in field.









Figure 2. Movement pattern of Asiatic Black Bear UF 10 for every three days around Kumadana on Mizuki (Cornus controversa) trees in Toyama Prefecture  from 18th September to 2nd October 2007


Red : 9/18-9/20,  blue:9/21-23, green:9/24-26, black:9/27-9/29, yellow:9/30-10/2 on the square mass 100 meters


2. Core area in active bouts



After resizing GPS measuring points to 50 meters a mesh, recorded during August 20th until October 3rd. Figure 5 shows a frequency of visits by bear in each mesh. During this time, total number of GPS measuring points went up to 771 points and total numbers of used were 387 points.

The 50-m-mesh which have GPS locations more than twice of expected value (=771÷387) are shown by red meshes and the 50-m-mesh which have more than expected value are shown by blue meshes. A-R in Fig.2 shows core areas. The point of(A~R)there are the area which is visited repeatedly in movement pattern.

            Colored by blue as more than expected rate; colored by red as more than 2 times using mesh. It was the recorded of GPS measuring points located closely. Distinguished red mesh group and blue one. It made other limits of blue ones which was connected to red ones, it called “Core Area”, and these condition was marked by the letter of A-R in Figure 3.

Consequently, core areas had been exist in movement pattern of bear necessarily.



































Figure 3. Distribution of location points of Black Bear UF10 in Toyama Prefecture from 20th August 2007 to 3rd October 2007.


Red cell shows 4 and over of location points. Blue cell shows 2-3 location points. Green cell shows 1 location point.  Alphabet A to R show Core Area.







1. Food availability


      The tree species that are used for movement pattern of the Asiatic Black Bear from one place to another place may be the same and difference, it can be berries seeds tree or nuts tree, but in case of “UF10 bear” study, the movement pattern showed the same tree species as berries tree/ fleshy-fruit. This bear have the different movement pattern. As mobile and opportunistic mammals, bear show changing movement pattern use in accordance with changes in resource abundance (Hazumi et al. 1997, Power 1992, Nay and Haroldson 1990, Smith et al. 1992, Reid et al. 1991, Mano 1994, Joshi et al. 1995).

Many studies on movement patterns of American Black Bear (Amstrup and Beechum 1976, Garshelis and Pelton 1981, Kasbohm et al. 1998) and brown bears or grizzly bears or sun bear (Clevenger  1996, McConney and Galetti 1999) conclude that the food availability was the most important factor that influenced bear movements. No distinct fruiting period where bear food become abundant occurred during the entire study period. Therefore, it was not possible to compare daily movement distances between fruiting season and non-fruiting season.

Amstrup and Beecham (1976) reported that the daily movements of American black bears were greater (mean = 1.5 km) in 1973 when food was sparse, than in 1974 (mean = 1.1 km), when food was diverse and abundant. Similarly, Pelton (1989) reported American black bear in Tennessee moved 2-4 times farther in lean acorn years than in mast ones, and Roggers (1976, 1977), Rogers and Applegate 1983 reported increased numbers of bears moving during scarce food years. Wong et al. (2002) strongly believe figs, has a strong influence on movement pattern of sun bears. Thus, I understood that food availability has strong influence on the movement patterns of the UF10 as Asiatic Black Bear in Toyama Prefecture.




The movement pattern of one the Asiatic Black Bear in used of GPS collar in August 20th to October 3rd 2007 that use the berries tree species. Every three days of movement pattern one the Asiatic Black Bear had been moved in different pattern. After resizing GPS measuring points to 50 meters a mesh, the data shows a frequency in used by bear in each mesh, total GPS measuring points went up to 771 points and total mesh used were 387 points, and the difference movement pattern has strong influence on food availability in Toyama Prefecture.

I understood that the Asiatic Black Bear took the action to strongly depends on fleshy fruits of some tree species in Warm and Cool Temperate Forest in Japan and play the role of seed disperser for Warm and Cool Temperate Deciduous Forest in Toyama Prefecture, Japan.



September 15, 2009 - Posted by | Publication

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