Disputas: Floris Michiel van Beest
Master of Science Floris Michiel van Beest ved Biologisk institutt vil forsvare sin avhandling for graden ph.d. (philosophiae doctor): Factors affecting the spatiotemporal distribution of moose, with a special emphasis on supplementary feeding
Assistant Professor Mark Hebblewhite, College of Forestry and Conservation, University of Montana, Missoula
Leder av disputas: Professor Klaus Høiland
Veileder: Atle Mysterud, Jos M. Milner og Leif Egil Loe
Supplementary winter feeding affects the distribution of moose but only at small spatial scales during winter and it seriously increases the amount of browsing on trees within 1 km of feeding stations after 15-20 years of winter feeding. This is the main result of a doctoral research project carried out by Floris M. van Beest for the Department of Biology, University of Oslo in collaboration with the Faculty of Applied Ecology and Agricultural Sciences, Hedmark University College. More than 25 moose in southern Norway were fitted with GPS collars and followed for 1 year during 2007 and 2008 to determine the effectiveness of providing supplementary food in the form of silage in reducing forest damage and to see how it affects the space use of moose over time.
Moose that used supplementary feeding stations (feeding station users) in a forested area in Telemark County spent much of their time close to the feeding stations and often returned there. Unexpectedly, these moose did not change the way they selected habitats for activities such as foraging or resting compared to moose that did not use feeding stations (non-users). Actually, habitat use of all moose was influenced mostly by the availability and quality of natural forage in both summer and winter. Home range size of feeding station users was not affected by the presence of feeding stations but more by the amount and quality of natural forage, as well as by temperature and snow fall. After 6 years of supplementary feeding, feeding station users spent the same amount of time in young pine stands as non-users. Pine stands are an economically valuable source of timber in Norway and this finding questions the ability of supplementary feeding with silage to reduce forest damage caused by moose. In an area in Hedmark County where winter feeding has been practiced for more than 15 years, browsing damage to young trees by feeding station users was so high that there was very little natural food left close to the feeding stations.
Providing non-natural supplementary winter forage to wildlife is an increasingly common management practice throughout Norway, Europe and North America and evaluating the consequences is important to ensure that the desired effects are realized. This study shows how supplementary feeding affects the distribution of moose and how tree damage around feeding stations changes over time. However, to accurately evaluate the effectiveness of supplementary feeding as a wildlife management tool we need to understand and consider all the associated benefits and costs across the ecosystem as a whole.
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