Ecological Society of America
Population-level demographic characteristics as estimated by standard logistic growth models (i.e., carrying capacity and intrinsic growth rate) should vary with changes in habitat quality and availability of resources. However, few published studies have tested this hypothesis by comparing population growth rates across broad bioclimatic gradients, and fewer still the carrying capacities of those populations. We used time series data on moose (Alces alces) population densities based on aerial census and hunter harvest data for 34 management units across Ontario to estimate local carrying capacities and intrinsic growth rates. These population parameters were then regressed against associated habitat covariates for each management unit to assess how moose demography changes across a broad gradient of productivity, habitat abundance, and timber harvest. Moose carrying capacity was found to increase with increasing forest productivity as measured by DNDVI and the proportion of mixedwood stands in the forest. Both variables are plausibly indicative of high quality forage abundance for moose. Moose carrying capacity decreased with the proportion of forest stands harvested for timber annually, suggesting that immediate removal of forest stands and increased access by hunters temper maximum population size. Maximum rates of population growth by Ontario moose did not vary predictably with any of the landscape covariates tested. These findings contribute to our understanding of changes in demography across broad geographic and bioclimatic gradients and suggest that crude population estimators may be derived based on known habitat preferences and resource availability without a priori knowledge of animal abundance. (PDF) Characterizing demographic parameters across environmental gradients: A case study with Ontario moose (Alces alces). Available from: https://www.researchgate.net/publication/280936410_Characterizing_demographic_parameters_across_environmental_gradients_A_case_study_with_Ontario_moose_Alces_alces [accessed Oct 29 2018].
Street, G.M., A.R. Rodgers, T. Avgar, and J.M. Fryxell (2015) Characterizing Demographic Parameters Across Environmental Gradients: A Case Study With Ontario Moose. Ecosphere, 6: e138.