Current issue: 54(2)
We modelled the effect of habitat composition and roads on the number and occurrence of moose (Alces alces L.) damage in Ostrobothnia and Lapland using a zero-inflated count model. Models were developed for 1 km2, 25 km2 and 100 km2 landscapes consisting of equilateral rectangular grid cells. Count models predict the number of damage, i.e. the number of plantations and zero models the probability of a landscape being without damage for a given habitat composition. The number of moose damage in neighboring grid cells was a significant predictor in all models. The proportion of mature forest was the most frequent significant variable, and an increasing admixture of mature forests among plantations increased the number and occurrence of damage. The amount of all types of plantations was the second most common significant variable predicting increasing damage along with increasing amount of plantations. An increase in thinning forests as an admixture also increased damage in 1 km2 landscapes in both areas, whereas an increase in pine-dominated thinning forests in Lapland reduced the number of damage in 25 km2 landscapes. An increasing amount of inhabited areas in Ostrobothnia and the length of connecting roads in Lapland reduced the number of damage in 1 and 25 km2 landscapes. Differences in model variables between areas suggest that models of moose damage risk should be adjusted according to characteristics that are specific to the study area.
There is evidence that moose are attracted to fertile growth habitats apparently due to better quality and larger quantities of food. The nutrients in mineral soils originate from the weathering of bedrock and the composition of parental bedrock affects the fertility of produced mineral soil, thus affecting also the import of nutrients into the whole food web. We surveyed the connection between moose damage in forest plantations and the composition of bedrock and surficial deposits in Finnish Lapland. We used a database of compensated moose damage in private forests in years 1997−2010. Undamaged stands in National Forest Inventories (NFI) from years 1986–2008 served as a control data and moose-damaged NFI-stands as a reference data. Bedrock and surficial depositions and the location of studied stands in relation to ancient shorelines were explored by using the digital databases of the Geological Survey of Finland. Moose-damaged stands were concentrated in southwestern and east Lapland in the areas of the Peräpohja Schist Belt and Lapland’s Greenstone Belt that are both composed of nutrient-rich rocks. The bedrock of damaged stands contained a higher proportion of mafic and alkaline rocks than did the control stands. Moose-damaged stands were pine-dominated and grew in more fertile forest sites than did control stands. Part of pine stands probably located in soils formerly occupied by spruce, which may increase the stands’ vulnerability to biotic threats. Especially, there were relatively more moose damage in pine plantations regenerated on fine-grained mineral soils derived from nutrient rich rocks than in less fertile soils.
The occurrence of moose damage was studied using data from three National Forest Inventories (NFIs) accomplished between 1986 and 2008 in Finland. The combined data included a total of 97 390 young stands. The proportion of moose damage increased from 3.6% to 8.6% between the 8th NFI (1986–1994) and the 10th NFI (2004–2008). The majority (75%) of the damage occurred in Scots pine-dominated stands. The proportion of damage was higher in aspen-dominated stands than in stands dominated by any other tree species. The tree species mixture also had a clear effect on the occurrence of damage. Pure Scots pine stands had less damage than mixed Scots pine stands, and moose damage decreased linearly with the increasing proportion of Scots pine. Stands on mineral soil had more frequent moose damage than stands on peatlands. The fertility class of the site had no straightforward effect on the damage frequency. Artificially regenerated stands had more damage than naturally regenerated stands. Accomplished soil preparation measures and the need for thinning or clearing operations increased moose damage. High proportions of moose damage in young stands were found around the country. In the 10th NFI, the largest concentration of damage was found in southwestern Finland. Our study shows the temporal and spatial changes in the occurrence of moose damage and pinpoints some important silvicultural factors affecting the relative risk of young stands over a large geographical area.