Home range characteristics of sympatric moose and white-tailed deer in northern Minnesota
Moose (Alces alces) and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) population numbers in northern Minnesota have fluctuated recently, possibly due to habitat changes, interspecific competition, and meningeal worm (Parelaphostrongylus tenuis). Little is known currently about the relative distribution and home range characteristics of sympatric moose and white-tailed deer in this area. Surveys were conducted during the winters of 1989 and 1991 to determine the relative distributions of moose and whitetailed deer pellet groups in Voyageurs National Park (VNP). Moose and white-tailed deer home ranges were determined using an adaptive kernel technique and applied to aerial radio telemetry relocations from 1989 to 1991. I examined the habitat selections of moose and white-tailed deer through compositional analysis at the home-range and corearea scales. Pellet transect data revealed a low abundance of moose and a high abundance of white-tailed deer and provided evidence of some spatial separation between moose and deer ranges in VNP. This evidence was supported by little interspecific home range overlap between radio collared moose and white-tailed deer. Moose home ranges in VNP were larger than any previously reported in the contiguous United States, and white-tailed deer home ranges were larger than any previously reported for the region. There was no apparent difference in home range sizes between the sexes for moose and white-tailed deer, although small sample sizes precluded precise statistical testing. Compositional analysis did not detect any habitat preference at the core-area scale for either moose or white-tailed deer. Both moose and white-tailed deer exhibited a significant preference for spruce/balsam fir habitats at the home-range scale. Canopy density and height preferences differed between moose and white-tailed deer at the homerange scale. Differential habitat preferences between moose and white-tailed deer in VNP might be related to the differences between these species' abilities to cope with northern mid-continent climates. The apparent spatial separation and different habitat preferences between moose and white-tailed deer might provide a refuge for moose from meningeal worm-infected white-tailed deer in VNP and could be a factor in the coexistence of the species.