University of South-Eastern Norway
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Replication data for: Room without a view—Den excavation in relation to body size in brown bears

Version 2 2023-09-15, 07:40
Version 1 2020-04-28, 10:45
posted on 2023-09-15, 07:40 authored by Shotaro Shiratsu, Andrea Friebe, jon swenson, Andreas ZedrosserAndreas Zedrosser

Data set used as well as model validation plots for the article "Room without a view – den excavation in relation to body size in brown bears". The data were collected as part of the long-term and individual based monitoring program of brown bears by the Scandinavian Brown bear Research Project (

Article Abstract - Related Publication

Hibernation is an adaptive strategy to survive harsh winter conditions and food shortage. The use of well-insulated winter dens helps animals minimize energy loss during hibernation. Brown bears (Ursus arctos) commonly use excavated dens for hibernation. Physical attributes of excavated dens are expected to impact the bear's heat retention and energy conservation. The objective of this study was to examine the determinants of cavity size of excavated dens and the impact of physical attributes of excavated dens on energy conservation in hibernating bears, hypothesizing that bears excavate dens in a way to minimize heat loss and optimize energy conservation during hibernation. We predicted that den cavity size would be determined by the bear's body size and that older bears would excavate better-fitting cavities to minimize heat loss, due to their previous experience. We further predicted that physical attributes of excavated dens would affect the bears’ posthibernation body condition. Our results revealed that bears excavated a den cavity in relation to their body size, regardless of sex, and that older bears tended to excavate better-fitting den cavities compared to young bears, as we expected. Older bears excavated better-fitting den cavities, suggesting a potentially experience-based shift with age in den-excavation behavior and an optimum cavity size relative to a bear's body size. Our key finding is that insulation of excavated dens provided by wall/rood thickness and bedding materials had a significant positive effect on bears’ posthibernation body condition. We believe that our study provides new insight into how not only the quality of denning habitat, but also the quality of dens may affect hibernating animals, by presenting a potential adaptive aspect of den preparation (age effect on efficiency in den excavation) and effect of den attributes on the posthibernation body condition of brown bears.


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