5th Symposium on Fire and Forest Meteorology and the 2nd International Wildland Fire Ecology and Fire Management Congress

Wednesday, 19 November 2003: 4:00 PM
Landscape analysis of moose distribution relative to fire history in Interior Alaska
J. A. Maier, University of Alaska, Fairbanks, AK; and J. Ver Hoef, A. D. McGuire, R. T. Bowyer, L. B. Saperstein, and H. Maier
Moose (Alces alces) play a major role in the dynamics of boreal forest ecosystems and are an important resource for subsistence users. Fire is a major disturbance of boreal forests in interior Alaska, but how the age and juxtaposition of fires affects the density and distribution of moose on a landscape scale is poorly understood. To evaluate these effects, data collected by the Alaska Department of Fish & Game and other government agencies in interior Alaska on the early winter density and distribution of moose (2628 spatial units of approximately 15 km2 each) were analyzed for relationships with spatial data on vegetation, topography, distance to rivers and towns, the occurrence and timing of fire, and a variety of landscape metrics describing patch size, shape, and configuration. Because densities vary widely due to large scale differences in management and other factors, a spatial response surface of the log of female moose density was fit and residuals were calculated so that local relationships were preserved. To examine the effects of scale, a spatial linear model was used to analyze the dependence of residuals on independent variables organized at 15, 23, 34, 51, 76, and 114 km2. The analysis revealed that the densest populations of moose occur closer to towns (t=-5.04), at moderate elevations (t=5.98), near rivers (t=4.85), and in areas where fire occurred between 11 and 30 years ago ( t=3.66 for 11 to 20 years and t=3.48 for 21 to 30 years). In addition, moose tend to occur in areas that have large (t=2.12) compact (t=2.87) patches of varied habitat and avoid variable terrain (t=-2.49) and non-vegetated areas (t=-2.13). Significant relationships of most variables with moose density occurred at or below the 34 km2 scale, which suggests that moose respond to environmental variables within a few kilometers of their location.

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