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Title: Browse biomass removal and nutritional condition of Alaska moose Alces alces

Author: Seaton, C.Tom; Paragi, Thomas F.; Boertje, Rodney D.; Kielland, Knut; DuBois, Stephen; Fleener, Craig L.

Date: 2011

Source: Wildlife Biology. 17(1): 55-66

Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)

Description: We present methodology for assessing browse removal to help evaluate resource limitation among moose Alces alces populations in large, potentially remote areas of boreal forest. During 2000-2007, we compared proportional removal (ratio of browse consumption to browse production) in eight areas of lnterior Alaska, USA, with multi-year twinning rates of the respective moose populations. Several prior studies concluded that twinning rate provided an index of the nutritional condition of moose. We theorized that a plant-based sampling of proportional use of browse by moose in late winter would inversely correlate with the nutritional condition of moose. We sampled willow Salix spp., quaking aspen Populus tremuloides, balsam poplar P. balsamifera and Alaska paper birch Betula neoalaskana, i.e. plants with current annual growth (CAG) between 0.5 and 3.0 m above ground. We estimated the biomass of CAG and biomass removed by moose based on bite diameters and diameter-mass regressions specific to each browse species. Mean browse removal by moose varied among study areas from 9 to 43% of CAG. Moose twinning rate (range: 7-64%) was inversely correlated with proportional browse removal by moose (Spearman's rho = -0.863, P < 0.005). Proportional browse removal appeared useful in linking foraging ecology and population dynamics of moose in Alaska, and the technique may be used to quantify resource limitation in moose populations inhabiting boreal forest in a broader geographic region.

Keywords: Alces alces, browse, forage, Interior Alaska, moose, moose density, twinning, willow

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Seaton, C.Tom; Paragi, Thomas F.; Boertje, Rodney D.; Kielland, Knut; DuBois, Stephen; Fleener, Craig L. 2011. Browse biomass removal and nutritional condition of Alaska moose Alces alces. Wildlife Biology. 17(1): 55-66. Doi: 10.2981/10-010.

 


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