Bears have many likeable features and behaviours, but they also have the potential to do serious harm to human beings. As a result, they tend to illicit strong emotional responses from those who want them to be protected and those who do not. This makes them a difficult species to manage and conserve without empirical scientific evidence to tackle irrational beliefs.
At Picchio, we conduct research on Asian black bears from various angles in order to discover more about them as a species. We hope that the knowledge gained will reduce friction with humans and be helpful in drawing out the appeal of bears overall. Through our research, we aim to broaden our understanding of the ecosystem as a whole and unravel its many mechanisms so that everyone can share in our passion for preserving it.
As large mammals, black bears require vast forested areas for their habitat. Researching their movements and behaviour in relation to habitat can help to preserve local biodiversity. Furthermore, since migratory patterns vary between individual bears, it is important to identify and respond to individuals which display potentially problematic behaviour in order to prevent and reduce conflict with humans. With the aid of equipment such as GPS systems, we are able to survey Asiatic black bears even from afar.
Annual and seasonal home range characteristics of female Asiatic black bears in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan
Toshiaki Yamamoto, Hiroo Tamatani, Junpei Tanaka, Shotaro Yokoyama, Kumiko Kamiike, Masaru Koyama, Kanako Seki, Sayoko Kakefuda, Yuko Kato, and Natsumi Izawa. 2012. Annual and seasonal home range characteristics of female Asiatic black bears in Karuizawa, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. Ursus 23 (2): 218–225.
Abiotic and biotic factors affecting the denning behaviors in Asiatic black bears
Toshiaki Yamamoto, Hiroo Tamatani, Junpei Tanaka, Gen Oshima, Serina Mura, and Masaru koYama. 2016. Abiotic and biotic factors affecting the denning behaviors in Asiatic black bears Ursus thibetanus. Journal of Mammalogy 97(1):128-134.
Foraging Habits and Food Availability
Type and availability of food can have a significant impact on the behaviour of Asiatic black bears. By conducting faecal analysis and yield surveys of their main foods (particular berries and nuts) on a regular basis, we continually evaluate the relationship between bear behaviour and food-related factors. In addition, we are studying the role bears play as long-range seed dispersers in forest ecosystems.
Seasonal variation in fleshy fruit use and seed dispersal by the Japanese black bear
Takahashi Kazuaki, Shiota T, Tamatani H, Koyama K, Washitani I. 2008. Seasonal variation in fleshy fruit use and seed dispersal by the Japanese black bear (Ursus thibetanus japonicus). Ecological Research 23 (2):471-478.
We collect blood and hair samples from captured bears and send them to Nippon Veterinary and Life Science University for various studies on genetic diversity, kinship, nutritional status, reproductive status etc. We also collect ticks for the risk test for tick-borne infections conducted by Hokkaido University. These studies provide information that cannot be seen by the naked eye, increasing our understanding of bear ecology.
Multiple paternity in Asian black bear Ursus thibetanus (Ursidae, Carnivora) determined by microsatellite analysis.
Toshiaki Yamamoto, Hiroo Tamatani, Junpei Tanaka, Kumiko Kamiike, Shotaro Y okoyama, Masaru Koyama and Mayuka Kajiwara. 2013. Multiple paternity in Asian black bear Ursus thibetanus (Ursidae, Carnivora) determined by microsatellite analysis. Mammalia 77(2): 215-217.