Researchers study bears in southeast for berry seed dispersion

Pixabay / MGN

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) New research recently released by Oregon State University shows bears in southeast Alaska may be the best contributor for spreading berry seeds.

Researchers used motion activated cameras set up in a study area about 30 miles north of Haines. “We checked the cameras and the status of the berry clusters approximately once per week,” researchers wrote.

While a common misconception is birds are the primary resource for naturally spreading seeds, the OSU study says it’s bears and their scat. Scientists concluded that’s largely in part due to the fact brown and black bears could consume an estimated 300-400 berries in a single bite of a devil’s club cluster.

“In search of the nutrition in devil’s club fruit, we estimate that a single bear can consume over 100,000 devil’s club berries per hour of continuous foraging, and brown and black bears can collectively disperse an incredible 200,000 seeds,” the research claims.

The data also showed black bears were more likely to eat berries late in the season when brown bears were trading in the fruit for salmon.

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