Canadian Forest Service Publications

Factors influencing choice of balsam fir twigs from thinned and unthinned stands by moose. 1989. Thompson, I.D.; McQueen, R.E.; Reichardt, P.B.; Trenholm, D.G.; Curran, W.J. Oecologia 81: 506-509.

Year: 1989

Issued by: Atlantic Forestry Centre

Catalog ID: 26360

Language: English

Availability: Not available through the CFS (click for more information).

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Moose were observed to browse preferenctially on balsam fir (Abies balsamea) trees in stands where the stem density had been mechanically reduced to about 2000 stems/ha from over 30,000 stems/ha. Twigs from trees in thinned and unthinned stands were analyzed to test the hypotheses that moose were choosing thinned stands to maximize intake of a nutrient, or avoiding plant secondary compounds deliterious to digestion. Analyses included: twig length, weight, diameter, acid detergent fiber, neutral detergent fiber, dry matter digestibility, macroelements, crude fat (resins), crude protein, ash, and volatile secondary metabolites. Significantly higher concentrations of crude protein, P, Ca, Na, and crude fats occurred in trees from thinned compared to unthinned stands. Twigs from thinned stands were more digestible, longer, heavier, and had a gerater diameter than those from unthinned stands. Several secondary metabolites were found in highest concentration in thinned stands. We suggest that moose chose thinned stands over unthinned stands for feeding because of high protein levels and large twigs. Trees in unthinned stands had protein levels below reported maintenance levels required by moose. Secondary metabolite concentrations were opposite to the direction predicted and the data do not support plant defence hypotheses for the chemicals analyzed.