Browsing Journal of Range Management, Volume 40, Number 5 (September 1987) by Subjects
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Habitat Selection, Foraging Behavior, and Dietary Nutrition of Elk in Burned Aspen ForestPrescribed burning is frequently used to enhance regeneration of aspen. The effects of burning aspen on wild ungulates are poorly understood. We used free-ranging tame elk to assess diet composition and quality on a site containing a 40-ha aspen burn, pure unburned aspen, mixtures of aspen and conifers, and other habitats. Foraging preferences of elk among the habitats were also investigated. Overall, no dietary nutritional differences were found between burned and unburned aspen habitats. Diet composition by forage class varied somewhat, due primarily to an abundance of very palatable post-fire forbs on the burn. Time spent feeding was significantly different among habitats. The burn was substantially more attractive for foraging probably because preferred forages were consistently available and greater foraging efficiency was possible than in other habitats.