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Moose Populations May Be Suffering From Rising Temperatures

Diego Delso

Researchers at the University of Wyoming are studying how moose cool themselves down.

UW researcher Tana Verzuh said the moose population in the Snowy Range is declining and that rising temperatures may be a cause.

"Moose are a pretty temperature sensitive species. They don't handle heat very well. They're really well adapted to cold climates," Verzuh said. "This big idea that's been floating around is that these populations are struggling because it's getting warmer."

In response, her team measured the environment where moose bedded down in the summer. They looked at the amount of shade, the weather, and the moisture in the area.

"You think about us or a dog or an animal, when you get hot, you go seek shade. A lot of the research had shown that that's how they were reacting," Verzuh said. "What we found is that shade wasn't an important factor in bed site selection. What they were actually doing is finding wet ground."

Verzuh said laying down on wet ground is a great way to get rid of heat. She said the study shows the importance of conserving wetland areas.

Have a question about this story? Please contact the reporter, Ashley Piccone, at apiccone@uwyo.edu.

Ashley is a PhD student in Astronomy and Physics at UW. She loves to communicate science and does so with WPM, on the Astrobites blog, and through outreach events. She was born in Colorado and got her BS in Engineering Physics at Colorado School of Mines. Ashley loves hiking and backpacking during Wyoming days and the clear starry skies at night!
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