Brown Bear

What's the difference between a Grizzly Bear and a Brown Bear?

I know Grizzly Bear's are considered a subspecies of Brown Bear, but what's the difference that makes them require a different category?

Yes Bob (Oikos), I signed in and saw this question, thought I might impart what I know, though as for being an expert, well I think even Einstein would consider himself a student of physics !...

Yes grizzlies are one of several brown bear subspecies across the world. The difference is not anything radically different from what constitutes a subspecies of any organism. They are a population isolated from all other brown bear populations that therefore only breed among themselves. They have morphological features and other physical traits that differentiate them from other brown bears. 2 examples of this are the pronounced muscle hump across the shoulders that is particularly evident and expressed in grizzlies, no other brown bear subspecies is so distinctive for this. The other is that from which their name derives - the grizzled or greyed/silvered hair tips that typically appears in adults or otherwise sexually mature bears. These and other differences, and the isolation are enough to assign them as a subspecies in their own right.
The differences to other brown bears are not enough to assign them as a species on their own. In addition the grizzly gene pool, that's the entire collection of all genes across all individuals are genetically compatible with all other subspecies. As they are physiologically (at least, they are other factors that prohibit interbreeding such as behavioural incompatibility) able to interbreed with other browns, this is an important factor in determining the taxonomy. That said, it is only a guide, not a concrete rule.
The term subspecies is of much less distinction than a different category, it is only a subrank or taxonomic unit within species.
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This is in reference to the entire range of the grizzly...
I am aware of the colloquial usage of both 'grizzly' and 'brown bear'. In everyday, local usage, brown bears (or 'coastal brown bears') are those populations in outlying and coastal regions. Grizzlies are inland and upland populations. The confusion continues for other reasons - the grizzled hair is much more common within inland populations. Further, historically these 2 groups brown bears of mainland N. America 'where' assigned different scientific names (trinomials - subspecies names). The coastal brown bear was Ursus arctos gyas and the grizzly the now inclusive Ursus arctos horribilis.
And just to throw another spanner in the works, consider this - I deliberately stated 'mainland N. America'. Today gyas is obsolete, ALL mainland brown bears of N. America, that is inland, upland, alaskan, coastal...are the subspecies Ursus arctos horribilis - the grizzly. However, there is actually one other subspecies of N. America - Ursus arctos middendorffi, the kodiak. This is brown bear population is isolated from all grizzlies as they live exclusively on the kodiak archipelago.
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There are other points to be made regarding all this, but they are not directly related to your question and would confuse the issue further !

Shadow D - "while other species", perhaps that was an oversight, but the error is unhelpful and contradictory...your weights are misleading, grizzlies too can weigh 600 + lbs.

Bob (Oikos) - *** I see ! No, the question asks about grizzlies and browns, not grizzlies and black bears.*** Other issues discussed privately and resolved.

Jeff Sadler - that profile does nothing to address the question asked, indeed it confuses the issue because you are implicitly stating that the 2 (coastals and grizzlies) 'are' in a different category due to the differences you state which is completely incorrect ! Your mentioning of the regional variation does however compel me to address an aspect I was not going to, but alluded to at the conclusion of my answer...
There are several differences between inland and coastal grizzlies - size, colour and morphology...indeed a reasonable case could be made for splitting them into separate subspecies, but let's not go there...
"As a whole the grizzlies are one of the smaller of the brown bear subspecies."
- on the basis of your stated premise, they would be, but your premise is incorrect. Given that ALL mainland browns of N. America are grizzlies, that means that ALL size ranges are included when determining the size order of the various subspecies. With that in mind, consider that coastal grizzlies actually overlap the size of the 2 largest subspecies - the kodiak and kamchatkan (U. a. middendorffi & U. a. beringianus). And so even though inland populations are smaller, the overall average places them 3rd or 4th in brown bear subspecies size, that is still in the top half of the rankings...

Jeff Sadler - you are childish and an ignoramus...I am running out of characters for my answer so I cannot rebut your edited drivel...except to say just that - 100 % tripe.

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vintage Rare Dark Brown James Kent Syrup Bear Creamer
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