Table of Contents
ISRN Ecology
Volume 2012, Article ID 945209, 8 pages
Research Article

Testing the Ideal Free Distribution Hypothesis: Moose Response to Changes in Habitat Amount

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Calgary, 2500 University Drive NW, Calgary, AB, Canada T2N 1N4

Received 3 October 2011; Accepted 23 October 2011

Academic Editor: J. M. Witte

Copyright © 2012 Abbie Stewart and Petr E. Komers. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


According to the ideal free distribution hypothesis, the density of organisms is expected to remain constant across a range of habitat availability, provided that organisms are ideal, selecting habitat patches that maximize resource access, and free, implying no constraints associated with patch choice. The influence of the amount of habitat on moose (Alces alces) pellet group density as an index of moose occurrence was assessed within the Foothills Natural Region, Alberta, Canada, using a binary patch-matrix approach. Fecal pellet density was compared across 45 sites representing a gradient in habitat amount. Pellet density in moose habitat increased in a linear or quadratic relationship with mean moose habitat patch size. Moose pellet density decreased faster thanwhatwould be expected from a decrease in habitat amount alone. This change in pellet group density with habitat amount may be because one or both of the assumptions of the ideal free distribution hypothesis were violated.