Thursday, May 12, 12:30 p.m.
ConocoPhillips Integrated Science Building, room 120
Thesis abstract: Wildlife managers must understand the ecological interrelationships between plant communities and herbivores like moose (Alces alces) in order to effectively manage populations. The dietary habits of moose have historically been accomplished through direct observations or microhistological analysis (identifying undigested plant parts in fecal samples), which are extremely difficult and time-consuming or cannot be quantified to the species level. One innovative approach is to extract plant cuticular alkanes (waxes) from fecal material to be analyzed for diet composition.
I tested whether the alkane technique could be used to identify the diets of moose in Alaska. To accomplish this, I tested a new automated method for extracting alkanes against the traditional extraction process by using forages and fecal samples from complete digestion trials for moose. I then used these same samples to measure the fecal recovery of alkanes in moose. Finally, I compared diets from traditional direct observations of tame animals in the field and fecal samples from these moose analyzed using the alkane and microhistological techniques. I found that diets calculated using the alkane technique are more similar to direct observations than microhistological analysis and should prove to be a useful tool for managers in Alaska.
For additional information, contact Audrey Jo Malone at firstname.lastname@example.org.