Composition and quality of elk cervus elaphus nelsoni summer diets in colorado usa
Baker, D.L.; Hobbs, N.T.
Journal of Wildlife Management 46(3): 694-703
ISSN/ISBN: 0022-541X Accession: 005023162
Tame, trained elk (C. e. nelsoni) were used to estimate the botanical composition and nutritional quality of elk diets on alpine and subalpine summer ranges in Rocky Mountain National Park during 1977 and 1978. Graminoids were the most frequently chosen food item in all habitats sampled during both summers; shrubs and forbs contributed lesser, equal amounts. Elk diets averaged approximately 60% digestibility and 13% crude protein during year 1 and 54% digestibility and 13% crude protein during year 2. Dietary crude protein and in vitro digestible dry matter (IVDDM) declined during July-Sept. 1977 from 16 to 10% and 64 to 50%, respectively. The following year dietary crude protein decreased from 15 to 10% and IVDDM from 57 to 50% during the same time period. Summer ranges appeared to provide abundant energy and protein; depending on weather conditions, the period of high diet quality can be brief.