Black bear marking behaviour at rub trees during the breeding season in northern California

A. Preston Taylor, Micaela S. Gunther, Maximilian L. Allen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


We studied the marking behaviour of American black bears (Ursus americanus) during the breeding season 2013. Six remote video cameras captured 529 trapping nights. We collected behaviour, sex, and age class of bears rubbing on trees. Marking events (N = 31) were observed between 26 April and 27 July with a median of 12 June. The majority (96%) of marking events were performed diurnally. All bears we could accurately identify to sex were males (N = 16) and 29 of 31 marking bears were adults. The most frequent use of contact with substrate was bipedal marking followed by pede marking, quadrupedal marking. Bears used their back, neck, head, and cheeks in nearly 90% of observations while scratching and biting occurred in less than a third of observations. We documented the novel behaviour 'groin marking'. This study suggests rub trees are locations for chemical communication through a variety of marking techniques in forested environments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1097-1111
Number of pages15
Issue number7-8
StatePublished - May 29 2015
Externally publishedYes


  • American black bear
  • Ursus americanus
  • breeding season
  • communication
  • remote-video camera
  • rub trees
  • scent marking

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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