ECOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS - Elk

0 Comments

ECOLOGICAL RELATIONSHIPS

In British Columbia, Elk usually live in mountainous
areas. Elk are adaptable, however, and they occur both
in the dense old-growth rainforests of Vancouver Island
and grassy interior valleys with scattered tree cover, but
they don’t necessarily need steep landscapes and were
once at home on the interior plateau and Canadian
prairies. 
They can tolerate wet coastal and dry interior
climates, but they usually keep to regions where the
snow remains shallow on winter ranges. Elk are not
as well adapted physically for travelling in snow as
Moose, and they depend heavily on low-growing
forage that disappears under deep snow. For these
reasons, Elk are not as widespread as Moose,
particularly in northern British Columbia.The coastal Roosevelt Elk tend to occur in fairly
small scattered herds, each one confined to a major
river valley where low-elevation early seral forests as
well as riparian, floodplain, wetland, and estuarine
meadow habitats provide winter-spring forage. They
subsist on sedges, grasses, and ferns, supplemented
by browse from willows, elderberry, blueberries,
cedar, and hemlock. In summer, most Roosevelt
herds migrate upward to subalpine meadows and
avalanche tracks, but a few stay year-round on
valley-bottom ranges.
In interior British Columbia, Rocky Mountain
Elk tend to be more migratory, though there is a
wide variety in the distances they travel between
summer and winter ranges. Their winter ranges
include open forest, grassy benchlands, and
floodplain marshes such as occur along the Rocky
Mountain Trench south of Golden. Typical winter
foods include sedges, horsetail, and willow in the
wetlands and various bunchgrasses, forbs,


serviceberry, rose, and other shrubs on adjacent
uplands. Elk also relish cultivated forage crops such
as alfalfa and clover. In May and June, most Rocky
Mountain Elk migrate to subalpine and alpine
basins and avalanche tracks, which support lush
herbaceous vegetation. The bulls tend to migrate
earliest, following the flush of nutritious new
growth at higher elevations, but the cows wait
until their calves are able to follow them. Autumn
snowfalls push the Elk back to their traditional
winter ranges, but a few bulls may stay in highelevation
areas for extended periods.
Elk share their ranges with other ungulates,
particularly deer, and less commonly with Moose,
Bighorn Sheep, or Mountain
Caribou. But each has
specialized food sources so
that Elk seldom face serious
competition for forage. On
some southern interior Elk
ranges, cattle offer significant
competition.
Elk have evolved for
thousands of years in the
presence of various predators.
The Elk’s large size protects it from predators, along
with its way of hiding newborn calves in dense
cover and its habit of living in social groups.
Although wolves, Cougars and bears can reduce
the numbers of Elk, over the long term the rate
of reproduction is usually sufficient to maintain
populations. Elk are host to a number of naturally
occurring parasites, bacteria, and viruses, but these
usually cause disease or death only when the
animals are severely stressed by malnutrition.
Elk are intelligent animals that learn from
experience and adapt to changing conditions.
Hunted Elk become wary, secretive, and nocturnal
and learn the location of protective reserves. Herds
that are not subjected to hunting or harassment,
such as those in national parks, frequently graze
on highway verges or golf courses and may react
belligerently to people. Other Elk have invaded
alfalfa fields and haystacks. Elk are among the most
easily domesticated American ungulates, and in some
places they are the focus of game ranching activity,


You may also like

No comments:

Powered by Blogger.

Text Widget

Sample Text

Unordered List

Total Pageviews

Contact Form

Name

Email *

Message *

Followers