Use of licks influences the movements and distribution of ungulates. We recorded attendance patterns, duration of visits to licks, and time spent licking by 4 ungulate species at wet and dry licks to examine possible influences on the timing of use of licks in northern British Columbia, Canada. Within-species licking intensity (based on regressions between time spent licking per visit and duration of visits to licks) was higher for elk (Cervus elaphus) than for moose (Alces alces) at wet licks, and higher for mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) than for Stone's sheep (Ovis dalli stonei) at dry licks. Lick response variables (duration of visits to licks, time spent licking per visit, and proportion of time spent licking) did not vary significantly among early, mid-, and late summer seasons, but there were species-specific differences in the timing of highest attendance. High use of wet licks by both female and male elk in late May followed vegetation greening at low elevations. Average attendance by female elk was highest in late June, coinciding with high lactation demands. Attendance by moose at wet licks was highest in mid-July, potentially coinciding with other aspects of forage phenology such as increased plant defensive compounds. Attendance by Stone's sheep and mountain goats at dry licks was high in early July, following forage change at high elevations and again in early August, potentially related to the trade-off between lactation demands and predation risk. Across species, consumption of lick soils allows ungulates to improve rumen function and nutrient absorption during the transition to spring and summer forage and to supplement elemental intake by females during the nutritional stress associated with lactation.
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