Northern moose migration corresponds with early snow-melt and increased vegetation

Moose and other species have advanced north with warming temperatures. University of Alaska Fairbanks assistant professor of water and environmental research Ken Tape said movement of boreal species into far northern Alaska has corresponded over the last century with earlier snow-melt and river ice out.

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Speaking during an Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy webinar Tuesday, Tape explained that earlier breakup has allowed increased growth of vegetation.

”It’s not just a hydrologic metric, but it’s really telling you when these shrubs growing and flood plains can get started,” Tape said.

Tape said that early breakup has allowed for more widespread, and taller, willow shrubs.

“Not only are we seeing this shrub expansion.” Tape said. “We think that there’s been a doubling of shrub height in the last century to century and a half.”

Tape said habitat surveys show that moose and snowshoe, which have also expanded into the far north tundra regions, prefer willows at least one meter tall.

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Dan Bross is a reporter at KUAC in Fairbanks.