An American black bear. Credit: Dave Moskowitz

In order to better understand the effects of highways on carnivore movement and population genetic patterns in the North Cascades Ecosystem (NCE), we are collecting DNA (primarily via hair) from black bears and martens using noninvasive survey methods. These samples enable us to evaluate the extent to which fracture zones may be inhibiting gene flow across the landscape (see Methods).


Grizzly bear (Yellowstone National Park). Credit: Paula MacKay

Our hair-snagging methods also allow us to detect grizzly bears, a species of major conservation concern in the US.

Remote cameras are deployed at a subset of sites to further document the presence of carnivores and to gather information about animal interactions with sampling devices.



More specifically, our research objectives are to:

  • map occurrences of black bears and martens within the study area;
  • identify fracture zones and potential habitat linkages across them;
  • document the presence of grizzlies and other rare carnivores;
  • acquire information about the genetic diversity of surveyed populations;
  • evaluate the effects of road characteristics on genetic connectivity;
  • share study results with relevant agencies, land managers, and conservationists;
  • help validate habitat connectivity models produced by the Washington Wildlife Habitat Connectivity Working Group;
  • educate the public about the important ecological role of carnivores and their conservation needs.