A study of predominant aerobic microflora of black bears (Ursus americanus) and grizzly bears (Ursus arctos) in northwestern Alberta

Can J Microbiol. 1987 Nov;33(11):949-54. doi: 10.1139/m87-167.


Swab specimens were obtained from nasal, rectal, and preputial or vaginal areas of 37 grizzly and 17 black bears, captured during May to June of 1981 to 1983, to determine the types and frequency of predominant aerobic microflora. Bacterial genera most frequently isolated from bears were Escherichia, Citrobacter, Hafnia, Proteus, Staphylococcus, and Streptococcus species, comprising about 65% of the isolates. Erwinia, Xanthomonas, Agrobacterium, Rhizobium, and Gluconobacter/Acetobacter were also isolated but at lower frequencies (less than 5%). Comparison of bacterial generic composition using similarity quotient values showed no appreciable differences between grizzly and black bear flora. Also, no outstanding differences in bacterial generic composition were observed among grizzly bear samples; however, differences were noted among black bear samples. Fungal genera most commonly encountered included Cryptococcus, Rhodotorula, Cladosporium, Penicillium, Sporobolomyces, and Candida. In general, the microflora of both bear types were marked by generic diversity and random distribution. The majority of microorganisms isolated from the plant samples in the study area were also found in bear samples. This observation and the presence of certain water and soil bacteria in samples from bears suggest that the predominant microflora of both grizzly and black bears were transient and probably influenced by their foraging habits and surrounding environments.

MeSH terms

  • Alberta
  • Animals
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / classification
  • Bacteria, Aerobic / isolation & purification*
  • Carnivora / microbiology*
  • Female
  • Fungi / isolation & purification
  • Male
  • Plants
  • Species Specificity
  • Ursidae / microbiology*