Biology ETDs

Publication Date



Population structure of the American black bear (Ursus americanus) in New Mexico has been shaped by anthropogenic and natural forces. Black bears occur in habitat islands throughout New Mexico with natural movement among islands influenced by periodic drought, resource limitations and dispersal. Both natural movement and human mediated translocations primarily involve male black bears because of their tendency to move farther distances and more frequent conflict with human dominated landscapes than females. Using DNA microsatellite analysis to investigate the degree of differentiation between different population segments (Fst =0.025 across genetic loci, range = 0.018-0.032) we determined that black bear populations in New Mexico are relatively undifferentiated. Lack of genetic structure is due to bear movement from a combination of distance between population clusters, climatic variation affecting resource availability, anthropogenic-mediated movement of nuisance bears and potentially a population contraction during the early part of the 1900s. Testing matrilineages through mitochondrial DNA of this species with high female philopatry would help to answer the question of how much anthropogenic movement has affected population structure.

Project Sponsors

New Mexico Department or Game and Fish, United States Fish and Wildlife Services




Black Bear, DNA, Microsatellites, philopatry, Ursus americanus

Document Type


Degree Name


Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Biology Department

First Committee Member (Chair)

Roemer, Gary