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Observations of moose behaviour and foraging choices in summer

Cite this dataset

Spitzer, Robert et al. (2024). Observations of moose behaviour and foraging choices in summer [Dataset]. Dryad.


Understanding how the nutritional properties of food resources drive foraging choices is important for the management and conservation of wildlife populations. For moose (Alces alces), recent experimental and observational studies during the winter have shown macronutrient balancing between available protein (AP) and highly metabolizable macronutrients (total non-structural carbohydrates [TNC] and lipids).

Here, we combined the use of continuous-recording camera collars with plant nutrient analyses and forage availability measurements to obtain a detailed insight into the food and nutritional choices of three wild moose in Norway over a five-day period in summer.

We found that moose derived their macronutrient energy primarily from carbohydrates (74.2%), followed by protein (13.1%), and lipids (12.7%). Diets were dominated by deciduous tree browse (71%). Willows (Salix spp.) were selected for and constituted 51% of the average diet. Moose consumed 25 different food items during the study period of which nine comprised 95% of the diet. Moose tightly regulated their intake of protein to highly metabolizable macronutrients (AP:TNC+lipids). They did this by feeding on foods that most closely matched the target macronutrient ratio such as Salix spp., or by combining nutritionally imbalanced foods (complementary feeding) in a non-random manner that minimized deviations from the intake target. The observed patterns of macronutrient balancing aligned well with the findings of winter studies.

Differential feeding on nutritionally balanced downy birch (Betula pubescens) leaves versus imbalanced twigs+leaves across moose individuals indicated that macronutrient balancing may occur on as fine a scale as foraging bites on a single plant species. Utilized forages generally met the suggested requirement thresholds for the minerals calcium, phosphorus, copper, molybdenum, and magnesium but tended to be low in sodium. Our findings offer new insights into the foraging behavior of a model species in ungulate nutritional ecology and contribute to informed decision-making in wildlife and forest management.

README: Moose behaviour and foraging in summer

The data contains observations of moose behaviours and foraged plants. Data were collected using camera collars on three male individuals during the period from from 1 July 2022 to 5 July 2022 on the Island of Vega, Norway.

Description of the data and file structure

The data is provided as an MS Excel file (*.xlsx), which contains two sheets:

  1. Explanations: Provides detailed information of the data columns in sheet 'CollarCamData'.
  2. CollarCamData: Contains the video index in rows (n=6597) and the observational data in columns.

Rows containing no behavioural data correspond to faulty videos from which no observations could be extracted. Empty cells in the dataset correspond to 'no data'.


Data were collected on the island of Vega (119 km2, 65°40’ N, 11°55’ E) in Nordland County, northern Norway, during the period from 1 July 2022 to 5 July 2022. Three male moose (ID: 1652,1764, E2808) between 2 and 7 years of age were outfitted with camera collars (VERTEX Plus; Vectronic Aerospace GmbH). Cameras were programmed to record 25 sec of video every three minutes during the study period. The video footage was manually analyzed and behaviours quantified as seconds of observation time in each video.


Swedish Environmental Protection Agency, Award: 2020-00108

Svenska Jägareförbundet, Award: 5909/2021

Norwegian Institute for Nature Research

Norwegian Environment Agency

Stiftelsen Fonden till Tor Jonssons minne