I am interested in studying the distribution and patterns of behaviour of moose (Alces alces).

Moose chew bark off of the trunks of trees, especially Populus tremuloides. See some of the following examples:



Often the teeth marks are at a diagonal, which could be quantified with an inclinometer. In my imagination I see them applying most of the force downward with their top jaw teeth. I also suspect that for higher up parts of a trunk that are chewed that the inclinometer angle would be steeper due to the moose reaching up at a more acute angle with respect to the trunk. This could be confirmed quantitatively by measuring the height of the chewing from the ground and comparing to the chew angles at each recorded height.

The markings may depend on the type of tree. The examples given above are all on aspen trees and show lots of teeth marks, but this video Moose eating bark shows a moose both chewing and pulling in order to get bark off a maple tree. The iNaturalist observations from above are from a similar area, but this video Moose Eat Poplar Tree Bark is unlikely to be from the same area but also shows lots of teeth marks.


Can we estimate the approximate orientation of the head of the moose relative to the tree trunk based on the chewing marks?

Note: This video How Humans Became (Mostly) Right-Handed claims that some information can be inferred from scrapes on surfaces. However, this considered scratches on teeth by (presumably) tools rather than scrapes on trees from teeth. This comparison is only analogical because the reasoning and methods could be quite different.

  • $\begingroup$ it might be possible from actual tooth marks but you don't have pictures of any of those. the a pic of the missing park probably can't tell you anything. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 2:41
  • $\begingroup$ @John Suppose I can go back to this tree that clearly has teeth marks on it. Can you describe a method for taking those field measurements and from those estimating the head orientation? $\endgroup$
    – Galen
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 3:35
  • $\begingroup$ Your best bet it to actually observe and record the feeding behavior then take detailed photographs of the tree, specifically close up shots that could actually show the marks left by teeth. then you can directly compare the two. tooth marks can often show the orientation of teeth by the marks left by the gaps between teeth. the fact moose only bite a very small portion of the bark they strip should work in your favor. keep in mind much of the stripped bark is imply pulled from the tree with only an initial bite to start it. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Aug 1, 2022 at 3:50


You must log in to answer this question.

Browse other questions tagged .