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Living in Snowy Environments: Quantifying the Influence of Snow on Moose Behavior

Caroline Lundmark and John P. Ball
Arctic, Antarctic, and Alpine Research
Vol. 40, No. 1 (Feb., 2008), pp. 111-118
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20181771
Page Count: 8
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
Living in Snowy Environments: Quantifying the Influence of Snow on Moose Behavior
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Abstract

We investigated the effects of snow and environmental variables on the depths to which moose sank in snow, and the extent to which moose followed in the tracks of other free-ranging moose in the mountains of the subarctic areas of northernmost Sweden. We tested a method to combine the variables that affect snow quality (e.g. density and hardness) into a single variable that is easier to measure in the field. We also studied the snow conditions in the summer and winter ranges of migrating moose. First, we performed correlation analyses that revealed that sinking depths of moose decreased with increasing snow quality, snow depth, altitude, and air temperature. Next, we next used the Akaike information criterion (AIC) to determine the best model of sinking depth, which indicated that the important variables were snow quality, altitude, and snow temperature. For trail-following behavior, the best model included air temperature only. Regarding seasonal ranges, winter ranges had considerably less snow than the summer ranges that these individual moose left, but snow quality did not differ. Overall, our new method to index snow quality (here, using a dynamometer to measure the force required to press a simulated moose foot down in the snow to the depth of a moose footprint) shows promise, and we suggest that future studies of ungulate winter ecology investigate it further.

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