|dc.description.abstract||1. There is a growing recognition of the importance of indirect effects from hunting on wildlife
populations, e.g., social and behavioral changes due to harvest, which occur after the initial
offtake. Nonetheless, little is known about how the removal of members of a population
influences the spatial configuration of the survivors.
2. We studied how surviving brown bears (Ursus arctos) used former home ranges that had
belonged to casualties of the annual bear hunting season in southcentral Sweden (2007-2015).
We used resource selection functions to explore the effects of the casualty's and survivor's sex,
age, and their pairwise genetic relatedness, population density, and hunting intensity on
survivors' spatial responses to vacated home ranges.
3. We tested the competitive release hypothesis, whereby survivors that increase their use of a
killed bear’s home range are presumed to have been released from intraspecific competition.
We found strong support for this hypothesis, as survivors of the same sex as the casualty
consistently increased their use of its vacant home range. Patterns were less pronounced or
absent when the survivor and casualty were of opposite sex.
4. Genetic relatedness between the survivor and the casualty emerged as the most important
factor explaining increased use of vacated male home ranges by males, with a stronger response
from survivors of lower relatedness. Relatedness was also important for females, but it did not
influence use following removal; female survivors used home ranges of higher related female
casualties more, both before and after death. Spatial responses by survivors were further
influenced by bear age, population density, and hunting intensity.
5. We have showed that survivors exhibit a spatial response to vacated home ranges caused by
hunting casualties, even in non-territorial species such as the brown bear. This spatial
reorganization can have unintended consequences for population dynamics and interfere with
management goals. Altogether, our results underscore the need to better understand the shortand
long-term indirect effects of hunting on animal social structure and their resulting
distribution in space.||nb_NO