RWO204-Evaluating moose (Alces alces gigas) browse and habitat resources and responses to fire dynamics on the Kanuit National Wildlife Refuge
July 2013 - December 2015
- Kanuti National Wildlife Refuge
The goal of this project is to evaluate the effect of fire history, plant community composition, and landscape characteristics on moose over-winter forage resources and use. In Alaska, much research has been conducted to evaluate the nutritional condition of moose. In fact, nutritional condition is used to predict future population levels and to establish appropriate harvest strategies. However, metrics used to assess animal condition, such as twinning rate and body weight, lack the ability to predict how moose populations and food resources will change in the future, because they are based on direct observations of changes that have already occurred on the landscape (Seaton et al. 2011). Quantifying moose browse correlates well with these metrics, particularly twinning rate, because browse availability and use are indicative of nutritional condition (Seaton 2002, Paragi et al. 2008). Identifying changes in habitat quality over large areas and through time would enable land managers to predict and appropriately respond to consequent changes in moose populations. Specific objectives of the research are to: 1. quantify available browse production and browse removal in different aged burn scars, 2. determine the proportion of browse removed in different aged burn scars, 3. correlate the proportion of browse removed with findings from relevant, recent population studies conducted on Kanuti NWR by ADF&G and USFWS, and 4. link findings from Objective 1 to vegetation and landscape characteristics in order to predict future likelihood of browse.