A NOVEL METHOD OF PERFORMING MOOSE BROWSE SURVEYS
Keywords:bite size, browse availability method, browse selection, diameter-biomass regressions, diet composition, northeastern Minnesota
We measured browse availability and use along foraging paths of GPS radio-collared moose (Alces alces) in northeastern Minnesota to estimate diet composition and browse species preference. On foraging paths during summer and winter we counted twigs via traditional methods for comparison with a novel method that attempted to better simulate moose foraging behavior. Twigs were collected and used to develop diameter at point of browsing – biomass regressions for each browse species. These regressions, different under open and closed canopy, were used to estimate biomass consumption on foraging paths and to compare 4 approaches. The average diets were similar to previously measured regional diets, and importantly, our data identified variance among individual seasonal diets. Our field method allowed us to better quantify and compare diet composition and browse selection of individual free-ranging moose directly on foraging paths.
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