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Response of moose to a high‐density road network

May 1, 2018

Road networks and the disturbance associated with vehicle traffic alter animal behavior, movements, and habitat selection. The response of moose (Alces americanus) to roads has been documented in relatively rural areas, but less is known about moose response to roads in more highly roaded landscapes. We examined road‐crossing frequencies and habitat use of global positioning system (GPS)‐collared moose in Massachusetts, USA, where moose home ranges have road densities approximately twice that of previous studies. We compared seasonal road‐crossing frequencies of moose with a null movement model. We estimated moose travel speeds during road‐crossing events and compared them with speeds during other home range movements. To estimate the extent of the road effect zone and determine how roads influenced moose habitat use, we fit a third‐order resource selection function. With the exception of the lowest use road class (<10 vehicles/day), we found moose crossed roads less than expected based on the null movement model and frequency decreased with increasing road size and traffic. Moose crossed roads faster than they traveled during other times. This effect increased with increasing road use intensity. Overall, roads were a major factor determining what portions of Massachusetts moose used and how they moved among habitat patches. Our results suggest that moose in Massachusetts can adapt to a high‐density road network, but the road effect is still strongly negative and, in some cases, is more pronounced than in study areas with lower road densities. Future road construction and the expansion of road networks may have a large effect on moose and other wildlife.

Publication Year 2018
Title Response of moose to a high‐density road network
DOI 10.1002/jwmg.21459
Authors David W. Wattles, Katherine A. Zeller, Stephen DeStefano
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Journal of Wildlife Management
Index ID 70196783
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization Coop Res Unit Leetown