Skip to main content
Alternative Foraging Strategies Among Bears Fishing for Salmon: A Test of the Dominance Hypothesis
Canadian Journal of Zoology (2012)
  • James M. Helfield, Western Washington University
  • Ian D. Gill
Previous studies of bears (genus Ursus L., 1758) fishing for Pacific salmon (genus Oncorhynchus Suckley, 1861) suggest that dominant individuals are the most efficient foragers owing to their ability to secure access to the most productive locations. We tested this hypothesis by observing brown bears (Ursus arctos L., 1758) fishing for chum salmon (Onco- rhynchus keta (Walbaum in Artedi, 1792)) at McNeil River, Alaska. We did not observe strong relationships between the foraging efficiency of individual bears and the frequency with which they engaged in dominance-related behaviors (e.g., displacing competitors, stealing fish, using more popular or productive locations). Although some dominant individuals achieved high catch rates, other nondominant bears foraged with comparable or greater efficiency by developing alternative strategies adapted to specific locations. Our observations demonstrate that bears may employ a variety of fishing strategies, the success of which may be location-specific and frequency-dependent. These findings suggest that physical and
  • Ursus arctos,
  • Brown bears,
  • Dominance,
  • Foraging,
  • Optimal foraging theory,
  • Salmon,
  • Strategies
Publication Date
June 1, 2012
Publisher Statement
Copyright of Canadian Journal of Zoology is the property of Canadian Science Publishing DOI: 10.1139/z2012-045
Citation Information
James M. Helfield and Ian D. Gill. "Alternative Foraging Strategies Among Bears Fishing for Salmon: A Test of the Dominance Hypothesis" Canadian Journal of Zoology Vol. 90 Iss. 6 (2012)
Available at: