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Keywords:

  • aerial surveys;
  • Alces alces;
  • black spruce plantations;
  • limiting factors;
  • moose distribution;
  • Québec

Abstract

Logging in the boreal forest may benefit moose by increasing food availability. However, the influence of tree plantations on moose behavior, especially on moose spatial ecology, is poorly understood. We assessed the impacts of black spruce plantations on moose winter distribution at a landscape scale in the Bas-Saint-Laurent region (Québec, Canada). We used winter aerial surveys to examine relationships among plantation characteristics and other habitat variables known to affect moose distribution. The total area of plantations positively influenced moose abundance, but highly aggregated plantations resulted in fewer moose. Moose abundance was also positively associated with food availability and the density of edges between stands providing cover and stands offering high food availability, but moose abundance was negatively associated with road density. Although plantation characteristics were less influential than habitat variables related to foraging and predator avoidance, we demonstrate that the area of black spruce plantations and their configuration should be considered in moose management. We conclude that an integrated management strategy is needed to find a balance between overdeveloped road networks (needed to join homogeneously distributed plantations) and agglomerated plantations in order to mitigate impacts on moose winter distribution. © 2012 The Wildlife Society.