Journal Article Major decline in marine and terrestrial animal consumption by brown bears (Ursus arctos)

Matsubayashi, Jun  ,  Morimoto, Junko O.  ,  Tayasu, Ichiro  ,  Mano, Tsutomu  ,  Nakajima, Miyuki  ,  Takahashi, Osamu  ,  Kobayashi, Kyoko  ,  Nakamura, Futoshi

5p.9203 , 2015-03-18 , Nature Publishing Group
Human activities have had the strongest impacts on natural ecosystems since the last glacial period, including the alteration of interspecific relationships such as food webs. In this paper, we present a historical record of major alterations of trophic structure by revealing millennium-scale dietary shifts of brown bears (Ursus arctos) on the Hokkaido islands, Japan, using carbon, nitrogen, and sulfur stable isotope analysis. Dietary analysis of brown bears revealed that salmon consumption by bears in the eastern region of Hokkaido significantly decreased from 19% to 8%. In addition, consumption of terrestrial animals decreased from 56% to 5% in western region, and 64% to 8% in eastern region. These dietary shifts are likely to have occurred in the last approximately 100-200 years, which coincides with the beginning of modernisation in this region. Our results suggest that human activities have caused an alteration in the trophic structure of brown bears in the Hokkaido islands. This alteration includes a major decline in the marine-terrestrial linkage in eastern region, and a loss of indirect-interactions between bears and wolves, because the interactions potentially enhanced deer predation by brown bears.

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