Relationships between habitats, forages and carrying capacity of moose range in Northern Alberta Part 1: Moose preferences for habitat and strata and forages

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  • Relationships between moose (Alces alces andersoni) and the habitat strata and forages available to them in northern Alberta were studied within the Alberta Oil Sands Environmental Research Program (AOSERP) study area during fall (September through November 1976) and winter (December 1976 through March 1977). Radio telemetry was employed to delineate seasonal use, and preference and avoidance of both habitat strata and forages. Specific categories of use of habitats were also identified and evaluated. These included feeding, bedding, non-feeding-bedding, and "presence only". In addition, environmental variables affecting habitat use were variously identified and measured. Both physical and vegetation variables were considered. The habitat use data indicated that upland habitat strata were most heavily utilized and were preferred (p<0.01), whiIe lowlands were least utiIized and were avoided (p<0.01), during both fall and winter, for all categories of habitat use except non-feeding-bedding. Individual upland and lowland, habitats were variously important. During the fall, the aspen (populus tremuloides) habitat stratum and aspen mixed with either white spruce (Picea glauca) or jack pine (Pinus banksiana) were heavily utilized for all categories of use. Only the mixedwood habitats were variously preferred. And, in the "presence only" category of use, black spruce (Picea mariana) and black sprucetamarack (Larix laricina) were lightly used and were avoided (p<0.01). During the winter, aspen and aspen-white spruce were heavily utilized and were preferred (p<0.01) for all categories of use except non-feeding-bedding. Only aspen-white spruce was preferred (p<0.10) for this latter category. During both fall and winter, saskatoon (Amelanchier alnifolia) was clearly the most heavily utilized species of browse, and it appeared to be the only species that was preferred. Recommendations relevant to impact assessment and rehabilitation within the AOSERP study area were made. Both the discussion of results and the recommendations were qualified because of inadequate sample sizes overall, and unusually mild weather conditions during the winter.

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