Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Cooke, William H., III

Committee Member

Belant, Jerrold L.

Committee Member

Dash, Padmanava

Committee Member

Meng, Qingmin

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Dissertation - Open Access


Earth and Atmospheric Sciences

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


College of Arts and Sciences


Department of Geosciences


The convergence of three young scientific disciplines (ecology, geospatial sciences, and remote sensing) has generated unique advancements in wildlife research by connecting ecological data with remote sensing data through the application of geospatial techniques. Ecological datasets may contain spatial and sampling biases. By using geospatial techniques, datasets may be useful in revealing landscape scale (e.g., statewide) trends for wildlife populations, such as population recovery and human-wildlife interactions. Specifically, black bear populations across North America vary greatly in their degree of distribution stability. The black bear population in Michigan may be considered stable or secure, whereas the population in Missouri is currently recolonizing. The focus of the research in this dissertation is to examine the ecological and anthropogenic impacts 1) on human-black bear interactions in Michigan (see Chapter 2) and 2) on black bear presence in Missouri (see Chapter 3), through the use of black bear reports provided by the public to the state wildlife agencies. By using generalized linear modeling (GLM) and maximum entropy (MaxEnt), I developed spatial distribution models of probability of occurrence/presence for the 2 study areas (Michigan and Missouri). For the Missouri study, I quantified the spatiotemporal shifts in the probability of bear presence statewide. The results from my statewide studies corroborate previous local-scale research based on rigorous data collection. Overall, human-black bear interactions (e.g., wildlife sightings, conflicts), while very dynamic, appear greatest in forested and rural areas where the preferred habitat for black bears (i.e., forest) intersects with low density anthropogenic activities. As both human and black bear populations continue to expand, it is reasonable to expect human-black bear interactions to spatiotemporally increase across both study areas. The results from my studies provide wildlife managers with information critical to management decisions such as harvest regulations and habitat conservation actions across the landscape and through time. The ability to detect and monitor ecological changes through the use of geospatial techniques can lead to insights about the stressors and drivers of population-level change, further facilitating the development of proactive causeocused management strategies.