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Stable Isotope Analyses of Multiple Tissues of Great Shearwaters (Ardenna Gravis) Reveals Long-Term Dietary Stability, Short-Term Changes in Diet, and Can be Used as a Tool to Monitor Food Webs
Open AccessArticle

Aquatic Macrophytes are Seasonally Important Dietary Resources for Moose

1
School of Forest Resources and Environmental Science, Michigan Technological University, 1400 Townsend Drive, Houghton, MI 49931, USA
2
Department of Fisheries, Wildlife, and Conservation Biology, University of Minnesota, 2003 Upper Buford Circle, Suite 135, Saint Paul, MN 55108, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Diversity 2019, 11(11), 209; https://doi.org/10.3390/d11110209
Received: 14 August 2019 / Revised: 24 October 2019 / Accepted: 31 October 2019 / Published: 1 November 2019
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Stable Isotopes in Ecological Research)
Moose (Alces alces) are generalist herbivores, but are important aquatic-terrestrial ecotone specialists. Aquatic macrophytes are a high-quality food source for moose during summer, but the importance of aquatic food sources to the moose diet is difficult to study. We used stable isotope analysis of carbon and nitrogen from moose hooves and forage (terrestrial plants, aquatic macrophytes, and arboreal lichen) to assess the diet of moose at Isle Royale National Park, Michigan, USA, using Bayesian mixing models. We also evaluated the isotopic variability along chronologies of serially sampled hooves. Overall, our mixing models indicate that 13%–27% of the summer moose diet was aquatic in origin. Among moose that died during winter, body condition was impaired and hoof 15N was higher where aquatic habitats were sparse. Although isotope chronologies preserved in hooves could significantly enhance our understanding of ungulate foraging ecology, interpretation of such chronologies is presently limited by our lack of knowledge pertaining to hoof growth rate and seasonal growth variability related to age and health. Distinct isotopic values among terrestrial plants, aquatic macrophytes, and arboreal lichens indicate that continued methodological advances in stable isotope ecology will lead to more precise estimates of the contribution of aquatic feeding to moose population dynamics and other ungulates.
Keywords: Alces alces; aquatic macrophytes; diet; Isle Royale National Park; moose; stable isotope analysis; ungulate Alces alces; aquatic macrophytes; diet; Isle Royale National Park; moose; stable isotope analysis; ungulate
MDPI and ACS Style

Tischler, K.B.; Severud, W.J.; Peterson, R.O.; Bump, J.K. Aquatic Macrophytes are Seasonally Important Dietary Resources for Moose. Diversity 2019, 11, 209.

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