Effect of Roadside Vegetation Cutting on Moose Browsing

Tanner, Amy L. and Leroux, Shawn (2015) Effect of Roadside Vegetation Cutting on Moose Browsing. PLoS ONE, 10 (8). ISSN 1932-6203

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Moose (Alces americanus ) vehicle collisions (MVCs) are an issue throughout the distribution of moose. Many mitigation strategies have been tested and implemented to reduce the number of MVCs, but there have been few empirical analyses of the effectiveness of roadside vegetation cutting. The goal of this study was to determine if roadside vegetation cutting attracted moose into roadside areas to browse on the vegetation regrowth. We hypothesized that moose would be attracted to roadside areas with cut vegetation. Consequently, we predicted that there would be higher levels of browsing in cut areas compared to uncut areas. To determine if moose were browsing more in cut or uncut areas, we measured the number of plants browsed by moose in paired treatment (cut on or after 2008) and control (not cut since at least 2008) sites, along with a suite of potential environmental covariates. Using a model selection approach, we fit generalized linear mixed-effects models to determine the most parsimonious set of environmental variables to explain variation in the proportion of moose browse among sites. In contrast to our hypothesis, our results show that the proportion of moose browse in the uncut control areas was significantly higher than in the cut treatment areas. The results of this study suggest that recently cut roadside areas (7 years or less based on our work) may create a less attractive foraging habitat for moose. The majority of the variance in the proportion of moose browse among sites was explained by treatment type and nested plot number within site identification (34.16%), with additional variance explained by traffic region (5.00%) and moose density (4.35%). Based on our study, we recommend that vegetation cutting be continued in roadside areas in Newfoundland as recently cut areas may be less attractive browsing sites for moose.

Item Type: Article
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/11886
Item ID: 11886
Additional Information: Memorial University Open Access Author's Fund
Department(s): Science, Faculty of > Biology
Date: 5 August 2015
Date Type: Publication
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