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Home > Appalachian Black Bears > About The Project > DNA Sampling Conclusions

DNA Sampling Conclusions

by Katie Settlage

The black bear DNA study has concluded, and overall it was a great success. The purpose of the study was primarily to examine how field design factors such as hair-capture site density (the number and location of sampling sites), sampling duration (how long we took samples) and subsample intensity (the number of hair samples eventually selected for DNA analysis) affected the accuracy and precision of population estimates. We sampled in two study areas so that we could also examine the impact of bear density; we sampled a relatively high-density bear population in Great Smoky Mountains National Park and a relatively low-density bear population on national forest lands in North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia.

In general, we found that the these field design factors can have a noticeable impact on the data obtained from a DNA sampling study. Primarily, subsample intensity can have a significant impact on the data. Analyzing too few samples can lead to unreliable population estimates, but luckily this study was able to shed some light on how to properly conduct a DNA sampling study in the southern Appalachians to ensure that future DNA studies can be well-designed.

We are excited about the potential that the DNA sampling technique can offer in the quest for improved bear management in the southeast, and we hope that this study can assist in the design and implementation of future DNA research.

If you are interested in reading the complete research findings from this study, you will soon be able to download Katie’s thesis in PDF format from the University of Tennessee website ( We'll post a note on this website when it is available.

mugshotAbout the author:

Katie Settlage is a Graduate Research Assistant at the University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

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