FINE-SCALE TEMPERATURE PATTERNS IN THE SOUTHERN BOREAL FOREST: IMPLICATIONS FOR THE COLD-ADAPTED MOOSE

Bryce Olson, Steve K. Windels, Mark Fulton, Ron Moen

Abstract


Moose (Alces alces) respond to warm temperatures through both physiological and behavioral mechanisms. Moose can reduce heat load via habitat selection when spatial and temporal variation exists within the thermal environment. We recorded operative temperatures (To) throughout the Kabetogama Peninsula of Voyageurs National Park, Minnesota for 1 year to describe seasonal patterns in the thermal environment available to moose and identify physical and landscape characteristics that affect To in southern boreal forests. Significant predictors of To varied by season and time of day and included vegetation cover type, canopy cover, and slope/aspect. Vegetation cover type influenced To during summer and fall afternoons with additional variation during summer afternoons explained by percent canopy cover. Slope/aspect was the main driver of To during winter and spring afternoons. Slope position was not a significant predictor of temperature, likely because of low topographic relief in our study area. The Tos were significantly warmer in open versus closed habitats during the day with the pattern reversed at night. Our results can be used to test if moose display a behavioral response to To at various spatial and temporal scales.

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