New Methods to Assess Forage Quality for Moose

Submitted by atripp on Wed, 12/28/2022 - 10:41

Twenty years ago, ecological studies were often limited by the number of times biologists could find (relocate) their study animals. With the advent and now widespread use of Global Positioning System (GPS)collars, tracking the animals is no longer a primary concern. Furthermore, researchers have shown models that use detailed, accurate, and informative habitat maps produce stronger, more insightful predictions than models that prioritize data about animal relocations.

Animals do not randomly move across the landscape. One of the biggest drivers of movement is the search for high-quality food sources. High-quality food for ungulates, like moose, is often indexed by how easily its proteins and dry matter are digested. Researchers from the University of Idaho and National Park Service teamed up to show that these measures of forage quality can be determined using specialized cameras mounted on drones. It is hoped that these techniques can be “scaled up” so that key indices of forage quality can be mapped across landscapes, allowing biologists to better understand how and why animals utilize their environment.

Forage quality is an important component of wildlife habitat. This study shows that forage quality can now be determined using specialized cameras mounted on drones. (Photo: K. Joly)


Author Name
Kyle Joly
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