INTERACTIONS BETWEEN A GENERALIST HERBIVORE, THE MOOSE, AND ITS WINTER FOOD RESOURCES: A STUDY OF BEHAVIOURAL VARIATION
Based on studies of radio-collared female moose (Alces alces) in three different winter areas in Norway, this paper describes variations in resource utilization and diet selection, and how these variations are associated with range use and activity. Moose on good winter ranges allocated more time to foraging activities and use larger areas in search for browse than moose on poor ranges. Although geographic and individual variation in foraging behavior are caused by variation in forage quality, quantity and accessibility, a large proportion of the individual variations within a single area was explained by differences in body weight, probably related to variation in competitive ability. Thus, heavier animals have access to browse of higher quality than lighter animals, which reduces the time needed for rumination. A multidimensional concept to explain the relationship between intake, quality and quantity of browse is suggested.
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