Heat-sensitive Ungulates and Climate Change

Project collaborators (listed alphabetically)

Kyle M. Redilla, Michigan State University
Dr. Robert Montgomery, Michigan State University
Dr. Bram Van Moorter, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Dr. Christer Rolandsen, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Dr. Erling Solberg, Norwegian Institute for Nature Research
Dr. Joshua Millspaugh, University of Montana

Warming temperatures associated with global climate change have been causally linked to changes in the behavior, reproduction, distribution, and abundance of a variety of species. Moose are temperate-zone obligates and become stressed when ambient temperatures rise above certain seasonal thresholds. Climate change can decrease moose survivability and is suggested to be a factor limiting the southern geographic range of the species. Despite the obvious risk that warming temperatures associated with climate change present to the continued survival of moose, the exact influence of warming temperatures on moose movement and population viability remains poorly understood.

We are investigating whether the connection between ambient temperature and activity/movement can be readily explored in wild moose systems to quantitatively isolate the conditions at which moose become heat stressed. Once the threshold of heat stress is appropriately established, then the influence of warming ambient temperatures on moose population viability can be evaluated.