Selecting sites for the study
The Anchorage greenbelts are fairly well inventoried for bird cherry trees, Prunus padus,. Inventory efforts utilized the data collection protocols outlined by the Alaska Exotic Plant Information Clearinghouse (AKEPIC insert link). AKEPIC is a data repository for invasive plant location information collected by anyone in the state that chooses to submit their data. Relative abundance of a species is recorded in the AKEPIC database as percent cover or stem counts. Percent cover is a required category for data submission while stem counts is not required. Anchorage area inventory efforts focused on the Chester and Campbell Creek greenbelts and avoided recording the landscape planted trees. Since we are interested in sites with varying concentrations of cherry trees we will utilize the percent cover information to aid site selection.
Initially we will categorize percent cover of cherry trees as high (75-100%), moderate (51-74%), low 26-50% and sparse (0-24%). Ideally we will evenly vary the sites selected in each category to enhance comparison of moose behavior with different amounts of the trees.
Once a site is selected we will collect browse species abundance data to further refine the information on forage availability and cherry concentration.
The map below shows the recorded distribution of wild invasive cherry trees and their density in percent cover (high red 75-100%, moderate yellow 51-74%, low green 26-50%, sparse blue 0-24%) throughout Anchorage. Inventory work focused heavily on the Chester Creek and Campbell Creek greenbelts. Select a colored pin to see the recorded canopy cover for that infestation. Data for this map was downloaded from the Alaska Exotic Plant Information Clearinghouse 12/7/2012.
Data collected by students will sample moose utilization of forage in Anchorage forests comparing use of forage in varying densities of cherry trees.