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Undergraduate Research Project Management System

New Methodologies for Determining Habitat Carrying Capacity for Moose

Status Complete
Seeking Researchers No
Start Date 06/01/2005
End Date 06/30/2009
Funding Source Hewlett-Packard
Funding Amount 74,000
Community Partner
Related Course
Last Updated 04/08/2010 10:29PM
Keywords moose, tablet PC, ecology, carrying capacity, deer


  Donald Spalinger, Kenrick Mock

Student Researchers
  Oran Weaver, Jim Weller


This project involves new methodologies for data collection and analysis to determine the carrying capacity of a habitat for moose and deer. The herbivore ecology data collection application is integrating a GPS unit, Mitutoyo digimatic calipers, Laser Range Finder, and a Polhemus 3D digitizer to allow researchers to sample plant information for moose forage in the field. The students are using HP TC4200 Tablet PC's to develop and collect data. We are also using a ruggedized Tablet PC, the Itronix DuoTouch, for fieldwork in rougher weather conditions. The analysis system for evaluating habitat quality for black-tailed deer and moose is on the basis of available food, its nutritional quality, and the nutritional requirements of the adult female segment of the population. We focus on food because it clearly sets the potential upper limit on the number of animals a habitat can support. Forage resources (vegetation and nutritional quality) can be measured in the field and can be manipulated by land management. We focus on digestible energy and digestible protein, because they are the two most common nutritional limiting factors for wild ungulates, and their requirements are reasonably well known for black-tailed deer and moose. We focus on adult females because they are the productive segment of the population, the animals that produce young. Nutritional requirements vary seasonally and with reproductive status (e.g., maintenance versus lactation). This system is suitable for any habitat and any species of deer (Cervidae) where the availability of forage, its nutritional quality, and the nutritional requirements of the deer are known. Based on a snapshot of nutritional information the carrying capacity can be calculated.

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