Melanie Clapham


I am a behavioural ecologist in the ACS lab at UVic, interested in the social behaviour of large carnivores. My previous research has focused on investigating chemical signalling behaviour in grizzly bears; assessing scent marking strategies and evaluating social function. I am interested in how social and environmental factors influence bear behaviour and the implications of this to their management and conservation. My fieldwork is largely conducted in the Great Bear Rainforest of BC, where I concentrate my activities on a high density population of grizzly bears in Knight Inlet. My work is conducted within the territory of the Da’naxda’xw/ Awaetlala First Nation, who I thank for allowing me continued access to the area. I work closely with the commercial bear viewing industry in BC and have been supported financially and logistically in the field by Knight Inlet Lodge since 2009.

I am currently funded by an NSERC Engage grant in collaboration with an industrial research partner, Grizzly Bear Ranch. This work focuses on building research partnerships with the bear-viewing industry to better understand the spatial and temporal movements of a low density bear population in the Kootenay region of BC. This project is set to lead onto a larger study with multiple industrial partners planned for 2018. The focus of this collaborative project will be to develop a new method to more accurately assess and monitor grizzly bear populations worldwide. We are developing face recognition technology for grizzly (brown) bears, which will allow for the identification of individuals based on photos/videos taken with remote camera traps. The project will combine cutting-edge methods of computer vision with citizen science and ecological knowledge to develop a software tool which can be used by bear researchers and the bear viewing industry throughout the species range.



Clapham, M & Kitchin, J (2016) Social play in wild brown bears of varying age-sex class. Acta Ethologica, 19 (3): 181-188. Link

Clapham, M., Nevin, O. T., Ramsey, A. D. and Rosell, F. (2014) Scent marking investment and marking motor patterns are affected by the age and sex of wild brown bears. Animal Behaviour, 94: 107-116. Link

Clapham, M., Nevin, O. T., Ramsey, A. D. and Rosell, F. (2013) The function of strategic tree selectivity in the chemical signalling of brown bears. Animal Behaviour, 85 (6): 1351-1357. Link

Clapham, M., Nevin, O. T., Ramsey, A. D. and Rosell, F. (2012) A hypothetico-deductive approach to assessing the social function of chemical signalling in a non-territorial solitary carnivore. PLoS ONE 7(4): e35404 Link

Clapham, M. & Darimont, C. T. Social and environmental factors affect chemical signalling in a solitary carnivore, the brown bear. In prep for submission to Animal Ecology.

Clapham, M. & Sergiel, A. Preliminary chemical analysis of brown bear cutaneous scent. In prep for submission to Journal of Zoology.

Rosell F., Owen M., Clapham M., Tinnesand H. V., Swaisgood R. R., Swenson J. E. & Zedrosser, A. Chemical communication in bears (Ursidae). In prep for submission to Mammal Review.


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