Range shifts among wildlife can occur rapidly and impose cascading ecological, economic, and cultural consequences. However, occurrence data used to define distributional limits derived from scientific approaches are often outdated for wide ranging and elusive species, especially in remote environments. Accordingly, our aim was to amalgamate indigenous and western scientific evidence of grizzly bear (Ursus arctos horribilis) records and detail a potential range shift on the central coast of British Columbia, Canada. In addition, we test the hypothesis that data from each method yield similar results, as well as illustrate the complementary nature of this coupled approach. Combining information from traditional and local ecological knowledge (TEK/LEK) interviews with remote camera, genetic, and hunting data revealed that grizzly bears are now present on 10 islands outside their current management boundary. LEK interview data suggested this expansion has accelerated over the last 10 years. Both approaches provided complementary details and primarily affirmed one another: all islands with scientific evidence for occupation had consistent TEK/LEK evidence. Moreover, our complementary methods approach enabled a more spatially and temporally detailed account than either method would have afforded alone. In many cases, knowledge already held by local indigenous people could provide timely and inexpensive data about changing ecological processes. However, verifying the accuracy of scientific and experiential knowledge by pairing sources at the same spatial scale allows for increased confidence and detail. A similarly coupled approach may be useful across taxa in many regions.
Service CN, Adams MS, Artelle KA, Paquet P, Grant LV, et al. (2014) Indigenous Knowledge and Science Unite to Reveal Spatial and Temporal Dimensions of Distributional Shift in Wildlife of Conservation Concern. PLoS ONE 9(7): e101595. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0101595