During winters 1987–1988 (I) and 1988–1989 (II), we assessed the physiological status of moose (Alces alces) residing on the west and east ends of Isle Royale (Michigan, USA) by collecting and chemically analyzing urine deposited in snow (snow-urine) from January to early March. Samples were assayed for urea nitrogen (U), sodium (Na), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), phosphorus (P) and creatinine (C). Throughout both winters, elevated urinary U:C ratios in snowurine samples collected from east-end moose compared to west-end moose indicated greater dietary energy deprivation and accelerated net catabolism of endogenous protein. Sodium: C ratios were low throughout the study and were similar between moose from both ends of the island, except during the middle of winter I. Greater K:C, P:C and Ca:C ratios in east-end moose compared to west-end moose throughout winter I, and increases in these ratios and U:C in east-end moose from middle to late winter during the second year provided additional evidence of a greater deterioration in condition in east-end moose. The superior nutrition provided to moose on the west end of the island was associated with more developed soils and diverse vegetation and a lower stem density of balsam fir compared to the east end.
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Vol. 27 • No. 3