Evaluating the threshold density hypothesis for moose (Alces alces), white-tailed deer (odocoileus virginianus), and parelaphostrongylus tenuis

Amanda M. McGraw, Ron A. Moen, Louis Cornicelli, Michelle Carstensen, Veronique St-Louis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Despite the importance of the Parelaphostrongylus tenuis infection for moose (Alces alces) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management, only one peer-reviewed study has evaluated the relationship between deer and moose densities and the potential for parasite-mediated competition between the species. Using polynomial-regression modeling, that study identified a deerdensity threshold above which moose populations declined; however, the nature of the data and apparent outliers suggests the approach used to develop that threshold may not have been appropriate. We used the data from the original study to test whether alternative models, including linear models and negative binomial models would be less sensitive to outliers and could better explain that relationship. We found no evidence that moose density decreases as deer density increases. We concluded that, although the proposed moose-deer–P. tenuis relationship could be partially density dependent, additional factors, such as frequency dependence of disease transmission, gastropod abundance, and shared use of resources by moose and deer should also be considered.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)569-578
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of wildlife diseases
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund, the Minnesota Zoo, the Integrated Biosciences Graduate Program at the University of Minnesota Duluth, the Natural Resources Research Institute, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Fond du Lac Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Resource Management, and the 1854 Treaty Authority provided funding and logistic support for this project. We thank John Pastor for helpful comments on earlier drafts of this manuscript. We also thank two anonymous reviewers for their thorough and thoughtful comments on the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© Wildlife Disease Association 2021.


  • Alces alces
  • Moose
  • Odocoileus virginianus
  • Parelaphostrongylus tenuis
  • Threshold density
  • White-tailed deer


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