Socio-ecological preditors of moose body condition across a latitudinal gradient in Sweden
Abstract: Factors predicting moose body condition in Sweden were investigated by means of dressed weight from shot animals and combining a range of potential explanatory variables from public national databases. There were significant differences between regions, sexes and age-classes with considerable variation between years and moose populations. Population sex ratio (male:female) and ungulate species richness (number of sympatric ungulate species present) were highly relevant in the models for the northern region, while densities of other ungulates (red deer, fallow deer, roe deer, wild boar) and human disturbance were significantly correlated with moose body mass in southern Sweden. Calf weights seemed to be mainly associated with abiotic factors like latitude and altitude and also with land use proportions such as available area of transitional habitat (wood-shrub, including young forests and clear-felled areas). Adult moose weights, in turn, were significantly correlated with interspecific variables and population sex ratio. Variation between moose populations was high. As a general trend, relationships in northern Sweden were mostly explained by fewer variables with higher consistence between age-classes. My results indicate that predictability is decreased by climate change creating complexity in food availability, and that managers should try to improve moose sex ratio and continue developing multispecies management approaches in order to maintain a Swedish moose population of high quality.
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