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Article << Previous     |     Next >>   Contents Vol 36(2)

Assessing microhabitat use by roe deer and moose in China

Guangshun Jiang A, Jianzhang Ma A C, Minghai Zhang A, Philip Stott B

A College of Wildlife Resources, Northeast Forestry University, 26 Hexing Road, Harbin, Heilongjiang 150040, People’s Republic of China.
B School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Roseworthy Campus, The University of Adelaide, Roseworthy, SA 5371, Australia.
C Corresponding author. Email: jianzhangma@163.com
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Potential conflicts between forestry production practices and wildlife habitat requirements are increasing globally with rapid socioeconomic development. Moose (Alces alces cameloides) and roe deer (Capreolus pygargus bedfordi) populations are in decline in north-eastern China, an area managed for forestry production. We obtained detailed information about these species’ use of habitat by following their movement paths in snow and recording behaviours exhibited along their paths. We used fractal analysis, Mann–Whitney U-tests and linear mixed models to analyse the paths and the relationships between tortuousity, habitat, and the expressed behaviours at different spatial scales. This analysis showed a natural break in the fractal dimension of moose movement paths at a scale of ~10 m, suggesting that moose exhibited different responses to their microhabitat and behavioural requirements at scales above and below this threshold. However, we detected no differences in the responses of roe deer over a scale range of 3–20 m. Moose paths tended to pass through areas with higher basal areas of tree stems and those with deeper snow. Roe deer showed positive associations between tortuousity and the number of bedding sites and feeding sites, and a negative association between tortuousity and the total basal area of tree stems. There was a positive relationship between the numbers of bedding and defaecating sites, and a negative association between the number of bedding sites and snow depth. For moose, we found positive associations between tortuousity and the number of defaecating sites, the basal areas of both broadleaf stands and mixed conifer and broadleaf stands, and a negative association between tortuousity and the number of feeding sites. We concluded that roe deer foraged in accordance with patch-use theory, whereas moose foraged in accordance with diet-selection theory. We concluded that modifications to forestry practices to foster the populations of both species of deer will require forestry operations to be conducted on a much finer scale, and that one species can be promoted over the other by selective fine-scale habitat management.

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