European Journal of Wildlife Research

, Volume 56, Issue 5, pp 745–755 | Cite as

Moose summer and winter diets along a large scale gradient of forage availability in southern Norway

Original Paper

Abstract

Studies on dietary functional responses in large herbivores are traditionally conducted by following individual animals. The method is very time-consuming, and hence, typically provides only a narrow array of forage species compositions. Here we use a range level approach to look at moose (Alces alces) selectivity for and utilization of forage species in relation to availability in both summer and winter. We compare 12 Norwegian ranges representing a large scale gradient in plant communities. The most important forage species in the diet were birches (Betula spp., comprising 43% of all trees browsed in summer and 27% in winter), rowan (Sorbus aucuparia, 25% of trees browsed in summer, 37% in winter), and bilberry (Vaccinum myrtillus, 42% of herbaceous epidermal fragments in summer feces). Selectivity for birches was positively related to its availability and negatively related to availability of rowan, Salix spp., and aspen (Populus tremula) together (all more selected for than birches). Multiple regression models including availability of several forage species were thus superior to single-species models in explaining the diet content of main forage plants. Selectivity for birches was also stronger in summer than in winter, while the opposite pattern was found for rowan. The finding is relevant for our evaluation of the quality of summer and winter ranges, and hence, their relative influence on population productivity. Our study underlines the need to incorporate species composition of available forage when quantifying dietary functional responses in selective herbivores such as moose. Furthermore, care should be taken when extrapolating data on moose diet across ranges or seasons.

Keywords

Carrying capacity Fitness Herbivory Management Optimal foraging 

Notes

Acknowledgements

The study was financed by the Norwegian Research Council, the municipalities of Vegårshei, Larvik, Aurskog, Åsnes, and Gjøvik as well as the moose management region Drammen Sør. We thank Agnar Væringstad, Johan A. Berglund, Torbjørn Danielson, Kjell Greibesland, Knut Olav Fossestøl, and Trond Histøl for doing parts of the field work.

References

  1. Akaike H (1974) A new look at the statistical model identification. IEEE Trans Automat Contr 19:716–723Google Scholar
  2. Andersen R, Sæther BE (1992) Functional response during winter of a herbivore, the moose, in relation to age and size. Ecology 73:542–550Google Scholar
  3. Beckerman AP (2005) The shape of things eaten: the functional response of herbivores foraging adaptively. Oikos 110:591–601Google Scholar
  4. Belovsky GE, Ritchie ME, Moorehead J (1988) Foraging in complex environments: when prey availability varies over time and space. Theor Popul Biol 36:144–160Google Scholar
  5. Bergström R, Hjeljord O (1987) Moose and vegetation interactions in northwestern Europe and Poland. Swed Wildlife Res Suppl 1:213–228Google Scholar
  6. Bump JK, Tischler KB, Schrank AJ, Peterson RO, Vucetich JA (2009) Large herbivores and aquatic-terrestrial links in southern boreal forests. J Anim Ecol 78:338–345Google Scholar
  7. Cook RC, Johnsen BK, Cook RC, Riggs A, Delcurto T, Bryant LD, Irwin LL (2004) Effects of summer-autumn nutrition and parturition date on reproduction and survival of elk. Wildl Monogr 155:1–61Google Scholar
  8. Cuartas P, Garcia-Gonzalez R (1996) Review of available techniques for determining the diet of large herbivores from their feces. Plant Ecol 99–100:317–330Google Scholar
  9. Danell K, Edenius L, Lundberg P (1991) Herbivory and tree stand composition: moose patch use in winter. Ecology 72:1350–1357Google Scholar
  10. den Herder M, Bergström R, Niemelä P, Danell K, Lindgren M (2009) Effects of natural winter browsing and simulated summer browsing by moose on growth and shoot biomass of birch and it associated invertebrate fauna. Ann Zool Fenn 46:63–74Google Scholar
  11. Edenius L (1991) The effect of resource depletion on the feeding behaviour of a browser: winter foraging by moose on Scots pine. J Appl Ecol 28:318–328Google Scholar
  12. Emlen JM (1966) The role of time and energy in food preference. Am Nat 100:611–617Google Scholar
  13. Ericsson G, Edenius L, Sundström D (2001) Factors affecting browsing by moose (Alces alces L.) on European aspen (Populus tremula L.) in a managed boreal landscape. Ecoscience 8:344–349Google Scholar
  14. Gaillard JM, Festa-Bianchet M, Yoccoz Y (2000) Temporal variation in fitness components and population dynamics of large herbivores. Ann Rev Ecol Syst 31:367–393Google Scholar
  15. Garcia-Gonzales R (1984) L’emploi des epidermes végétaux dans la determination du regime alimentaire de l’Isard dans les Pyrénées occidentales. Écologie des Milieux Montagnards et de Haute Altitude. Documents d’Écologie Pyrénéenne III–IV:307–313Google Scholar
  16. Gross JE, Shipley LA, Hobbs NT, Spalinger DE, Wunder BA (1993) Functional response of herbivores in food-concentrated patches: tests of a mechanistic model. Ecology 71:778–791Google Scholar
  17. Hagen Y (1983) Elgens vinterbeiting i Norge. Viltrapport 26:1–111Google Scholar
  18. Härkönen S (1998) Effect of silvicultural cleaning in mixed pine-decidious stands on moose damaged to Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris). Scand J For Res 13:429–436Google Scholar
  19. Hatter IW, Bergerud WA (1991) Moose recruitment, adult mortality and rate of change. Alces 27:65–73Google Scholar
  20. Heikilä R, Härkönen S (1996) Moose browsing in young Scots pine stands in relation to forest management. For Ecol Manage 88:179–186Google Scholar
  21. Hjeljord O, Histøl T (1999) Range-body mass interactions of a northern ungulate—a test of hypothesis. Oecologia 119:326–339Google Scholar
  22. Hjeljord O, Sundstøl F, Haagenrud H (1982) The nutritional value of browse to moose. J Wildl Manage 46:333–343Google Scholar
  23. Hjeljord O, Høvik N, Pedersen HB (1990) Choice of feeding sites by moose during summer: the influence of forest structure and plant phenology. Holarct Ecol 13:281–292Google Scholar
  24. Hofmann RR (1985) Digestive physiology of deer—their morphophysiological specialization and adaptation. In: Drews KR, Fennessy PF (eds) Biology of deer production (bulletin 22). Royal Society New Zealand, Wellington, pp 393–407Google Scholar
  25. Holling CS (1959) Some characteristics of simple types of predation and parasitism. Can Entomol 91:385–398Google Scholar
  26. Hörnberg S (2001) The relationship between moose (Alces alces) browsing utilization and the occurrence of different forage species in Sweden. For Ecol Manag 149:91–102Google Scholar
  27. Jia J (1996) Moose living strategies: biological features in Manchuria, and forage selection in Fennoscandia. Dissertation, University of Helsinki, HelsinkiGoogle Scholar
  28. Klein DR (1970) Tundra ranges north of the boreal forest. J Range Manag 23:8–14Google Scholar
  29. Kondoh M (2003) Foraging adaptation and the relationship between food-web complexity and stability. Science 28:1388–1391Google Scholar
  30. MacArthur RH, Pianka ER (1966) On the optimal use of a patchy environment. Am Nat 100:603–609Google Scholar
  31. Mauget C, Mauget R, Duncan P (1997) Metabolic rate and body mass in female European roe deer (Capreolus capreolus): incidence of reproduction. Can J Zool 75:731–739Google Scholar
  32. Mautz WW, Kanter J, Pekins PJ (1992) Seasonal metabolic rhythms of captive female white-tailed deer: a reexamination. J Wildl Manage 56:656–661Google Scholar
  33. McCullagh P, Nelder JA (1989) Generalized linear models, 2nd edn. Chapman and Hall, LondonGoogle Scholar
  34. Moen A (1999) National atlas of Norway: Vegetation. Norwegian Mapping AuthorityGoogle Scholar
  35. Molvar EM, Bowyer RT, Van Ballenberghe V (1993) Moose herbivory, browse quality, and nutrient cycling in an Alaskan treeline community. Oecologia 94:472–479Google Scholar
  36. Murdoch WW, Briggs CJ, Nisbet RM (2003) Consumer-resource dynamics. Princeton University Press, PrincetonGoogle Scholar
  37. Noy-Meir I (1975) Stability of grazing systems: an application of predator-prey graphs. J Ecol 63:459–481Google Scholar
  38. Peek JM (1974) A review of moose food habit studies in North America. Nat Can 101:195–215Google Scholar
  39. Persson IL, Danell K, Bergström R (2000) Disturbance by large herbivores in boreal forests with special reference to moose. Ann Zool Fenn 37:251–263Google Scholar
  40. Searle KR, Hobbs NT, Shipley LA (2005) Should I stay or should I go? Patch departure decisions by herbivores at multiple scales. Oikos 111:417–424Google Scholar
  41. Shipley LA (2007) The influence of bite size on foraging at larger spatial and temporal scales by mammalian herbivores. Oikos 116:1964–1974Google Scholar
  42. Shipley LA, Blomquist S, Danell K (1998) Diet choices made by free-ranging moose in northern Sweden in relation to plant distribution, chemistry, and morphology. Can J Zool 76:1722–1733Google Scholar
  43. Solberg EJ, Grøtan V, Rolandsen CM, Brøseth H, Brainerd S (2005) Change-in-sex-ratio as an estimator of population size for Norwegian moose. Wildl Biol 11:91–100Google Scholar
  44. Solomon ME (1949) The natural control of animal populations. J Anim Ecol 18:1–35Google Scholar
  45. Spalinger DE, Hobbs NT (1992) Mechanisms of foraging in mammalian herbivores: new models of functional response. Am Nat 140:325–348Google Scholar
  46. Suominen O, Persson I-L, Danell K, Bergström R, Pastor J (2008) Impact of simulated moose densities on abundance and richness of vegetation, herbivorous and predatory arthropods along a productivity gradient. Ecography 31:636–645Google Scholar
  47. Verheyden-Tixier H, Renaud P-C, Morellet N, Jamot J, Besle J-M, Dumont B (2008) Selection for nutrients by red deer hinds feeding on a mixed forest edge. Oecologia 156:715–726Google Scholar
  48. Wam HK, Hjeljord O (2010) Moose summer diet from feces and field-surveys: A comparative study. Range Ecol Manage 63 (in press)Google Scholar
  49. White RG (1983) Foraging patterns and their multiplier effects on productivity of northern ungulates. Oikos 40:377–384Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Ecology and Natural Resource ManagementNorwegian University of Life SciencesÅsNorway

Personalised recommendations