Moose Exclosures l Moose radio-telemetry
Over the past 200 years as Massachusetts has become increasingly populated, human distribution, land cover, and wildlife habitats have become more heterogeneous. As a consequence of historical changes in land use, land cover, and human attitudes, there has been a remarkable change in the abundance and distribution of wildlife within the state including the re-appearance of moose (Alces alces), a species extirpated from the state in the early 1700s. The increase in the Massachusetts moose population in recent decades has lead to interest and concern about the interaction between forestry and moose. Moose can have landscape level effects on vegetation and it is unclear what their impact will be on forest dynamics (i.e., composition, structure, and regeneration) and timber assets in Massachusetts. We are conducting observational and experimental studies to investigate moose ecology and forest dynamics in southern New England.
To date we have deployed 20 GPS radio-collars on moose in central and western Massachusetts to monitor movements and determine spatial use patterns. In addition, in 2007 we constructed 6 20x20m exclosures with adjacent control plots. Exclosures were established in upland white pine (Pinus strobes), oak (Quercus spp.), and mixed hardwood stands that had been logged within 3-4 months before construction. The fencing on 3 "full" exclosures abuts the ground, preventing deer and moose from entering, while the fencing on three "partial" exclosures starts 0.6 m off the ground, allowing access for deer but not moose. We began measuring vegetation and browse activity and monitoring some plots with remote cameras in 2007. Future exclosures may be constructed in Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and elsewhere in Massachusetts. The overall goal is to determine how moose use the landscape and their potential long-term influence on the structure and species composition of southern New England forests.