Development and application of physiological markers of Grizzly Bear health
Grizzly bears reside on changing landscapes across Alberta, Canada. The goal of this study is to determine how disturbances in the landscape affect the health of grizzly bears. This will be monitored by analyzing the (1) expression of proteins in skin that are associated with energetics, reproduction, and stress and (2) concentrations of hormones in hair that are associated with reproductive status and long-term stress. In collaboration with the Foothills Research Institute (FRI), skin and hair samples will be collected from free-ranging grizzly bears in Alberta, Canada. Laboratory techniques have been developed at the University of Saskatchewan (UofS) to isolate protein from skin biopsies and measure hormone concentrations in hair. FRIâs expert knowledge of landscape changes and bear behavior will be combined with the physiological assessments by UofS to create a tool to detect compromised health in individuals and identify drivers of stress in threatened species managed by FRI.