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Influence of the thermal environment on forest cover selection and activity of moose in summer Demarchi, Michael W.

Abstract

I investigated summer thermal cover and the influence of the thermal environment on habitat selection and activity of moose (Alces alces). Hemispherical photography was used to estimate the sky view factor (SVF) and effective leaf area index (Le) of coniferous stands as a function of crown closure class (CCC) values from forest cover maps. Moosehorn readings taken at hemispherical photo sites indicated that the CCC scheme correctly ranked stands by canopy closure. The stand attributes of SVF and Le, together with weather data collected in the study area, were entered into a model that simulated the operative temperature (Te) experienced by a moose. 'Hot' conditions existed when Te in the open (Teopen) exceeded the upper limit of the upper critical temperature (UCT) range of moose (Te >29.5 °C). 'Cool' conditions existed when Teopen was below the lower limit of the UCT range (Te 0.05). MSLV was not correlated with Teopen; however, a decrease in average MSLV values from 12:00 until 17:00 did correspond to sustained conditions of Teopen values above the UCT. The susceptibility of moose to heat stress, the effectiveness of conifer stands in providing thermal cover, and the relations between habitat selection and the thermal environment suggest that thermal cover is a required, manageable component of cow moose summer range in the study area.

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