Moose at their bioclimatic edge alter their behavior based on weather, landscape, and predators

Mark A Ditmer, Ron Moen, Steve K. Windels, James D Forester, Thomas E. Ness, Tara R. Harris

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Scopus citations

Abstract

Populations inhabiting the bioclimatic edges of a species' geographic range face an increasing amount of stress from alterations to their environment associated with climate change. Moose Alces alces are large-bodied ungulates that are sensitive to heat stress and have exhibited population declines and range contractions along their southern geographic extent. Using a hidden Markov model to analyzemovement and accelerometer data, we assigned behaviors (rest, forage, or travel) to all locations of global positioning system-collaredmoose (n=13, moose-years=19) living near the southern edge of the species' range in and around Voyageurs National Park, MN, USA. We assessed how moose behavior changed relative to weather, landscape, and the presence of predators. Moose significantly reduced travel and increased resting behaviors at ambient temperatures as low as 15 ° C and 24 ° C during the spring and summer, respectively. In general, moose behavior changed seasonally in association with distance to lakes and ponds. Moose used wetlands for travel throughout the year, rested in conifer forests, and foraged in shrublands. The influence of wolves Canis lupus varied among individual moose and season, but the largest influence was a reduction in travel during spring when near a wolf home range core, primarily by pregnant females. Our analysis goes beyond habitat selection to capture how moose alter their activities based on their environment. Our findings, along with climate change forecasts, suggest that moose in this area will be required to further alter their activity patterns and space use in order to find sufficient forage and avoid heat stress.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)419-432
Number of pages14
JournalCurrent Zoology
Volume64
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 1 2018

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Keywords

  • Alces alces
  • Climate change
  • Heat stress
  • Moose
  • Temperature
  • Wolves

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