WINTER HABITAT USE OF MOOSE IN CAPE BRETON, NOVA SCOTIA
Keywords:aerial survey, Alces alces, Cape Breton, GIS, habitat use, roads
Aerial survey data collected between 2001 and 2020 were used to assess winter habitat use by moose (Alces alces) in the Greater Highland Ecosystem of Cape Breton, Nova Scotia. These data were analyzed using generalized additive mixed models that explored the influence of habitat variables. We compared abundance estimates developed directly from the surveys to those estimated from habitat use. Moose generally occupied the same general area throughout the study despite a marked population decline. Moose favoured areas comprised of greater proportions of coniferous forest showing preference for younger forest, and moose meadows, areas of predominantly coniferous forest but with abnormal or retarded regeneration due to high moose herbivory. Moose occupied
areas farther away from roads inferring that moose preferred areas with younger plant forage and lower human access. The use of long-term survey data coupled with related habitat use relationships provided a useful approach to assess temporal tends in abundance and habitat use of moose in Cape Breton.
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