Animal movement patterns are influenced both by animals’ intrinsic characteristics (e.g., sex, age, or reproductive status) and by extrinsic environmental factors such as landscape features and season. Understanding how environmental factors influence animal movement patterns can provide insight for management and potentially aid in mitigating human-wildlife conflicts, which may be particularly useful for large carnivores in fragmented landscapes. We investigated the movement patterns of 16 Florida black bears (Ursus americanus floridanus; 6 females, 10 males) inhabiting a fragmented habitat in north-central Florida using GPS data collected from 2011 to 2014. We calculated bihourly step-lengths and directional persistence, daily and weekly observed displacements, and expected displacements. We used these movement metrics as response variables in linear mixed models and tested for effects of sex, season, and landscape features, as well as interactions among these covariates.
Male bears exhibited generally longer step-lengths than females. Bears of both sexes had the shortest step-lengths during the daytime, especially in the winter. Bears moved slower (shorter step-lengths) and moved less directedly near creeks, in forested wetlands, and in marsh habitats, suggesting that they were foraging in these areas. Bears moved faster (longer step-lengths) and more directedly in urban areas. Major roads acted as a semi-permeable barrier to bear movement. Males crossed major roads more frequently than females but both sexes crossed major roads much less frequently than minor roads. Our findings could help predict how future road expansions and residential or commercial development will affect animal movement.