RUTTING BEHAVIOR OF MOOSE IN CENTRAL ALASKA
We studies rutting behavior of moose in Denali National Park , Alaska during 1980-1983 and 1986. Definitions of sex-specific behaviors are provided based on over 1,000 hours of observation. Feeding (73% of total time) dominated female behaviors. Stand, alert behavior, and moving (2-9%) were other important non-social behaviors. Time allocated to various social and non-social behaviors by males varied among lone males, males in male groups, satellite males, and dominant males that controlled female groups. Lone bulls engaged in feeding, moving, croaking, bush thrashing, and standing about 72% of the time. Dominant bulls in mixed groups engaged in threats and displays to rivals with a combined frequency of 15%. Dominant males allocated varying percentages of time to certain behaviors as the rut progressed; herding females, courtship, and fighting were rare or absent early in the rut. We determined group size for rutting aggregations of different sex-age composition during different periods of the rut (early, mid and peak rut). Median group sizes were 4, 6, and 7, respectively, during these periods, with 37 being the largest aggregation observed. We suggest that moose in this area have a highly polygynous breeding system with dominant males responsible for most of the copulations. Although dominant males defend running aggregations and herd females, moose do not form true harems.
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