Moose (Alces alces
) are the largest members of the deer family, and their size is precisely why they are one of nature’s most resilient cold-climate species. Their adaptive mechanism to conserve body heat is best described by a zoological principle known as, ‘Bergmann’s Rule.’ The rule applies to the ratio of body surface to weight in warm-blooded animals. Moose have a relatively small surface area compared to their volume. Regardless of external temperatures, moose maintain a relatively constant internal temperature—meaning they require only minor metabolic and environmental adjustments to live comfortably in North America’s lowest-temperature regions. Moose range from the Arctic coasts of North America, Europe, and Asia, down to the southern limits of the boreal forest. In North America, they reach their southern extent in New York State to the east and Utah to the west.
The moose is a browser, or ‘eater of twigs’ as the Algonquian Native name translates. In a single day, an adult can consume about 44 pounds of vegetation. They graze on aquatic plants such as water lilies and duckweed and make use of their impressive stature to tear off twigs high in the willow trees. Summer waterways are important feeding areas and also provide escape routes from wolves, bears
, and mesopredators like the red fox