Compensatory bone remodelling in moose: A study of age, sex, and cross-sectional cortical bone dimensions in moose at Isle Royale National Park

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College of Forest Resources and Environmental Science


We studied interrelationships among age, sex, and cross-sectional cortical bone dimensions using quantitative computed tomography (QCT) scans of metatarsal bones of 180 moose (Alces alces) that died in Isle Royale National Park, Michigan. As a large-bodied quadruped with demanding ecological constraints on movement and behaviour, a moose experiences different weight-bearing and mechanical stressors than humans, to whom most existing studies of mechanical adaptations of bone pertain. In moose, both sexes showed significant subperiosteal expansion and an increase in medullary area, with an overall increase in cortical bone area over time. Female moose did not exhibit cortical thinning or reduction in cross-sectional area with age, rather they showed an increase in cortical bone area with periosteal apposition exceeding endosteal resorption, similar to the males. We also found that moose undergo changes in bone geometry through remodelling of bone similar to humans, suggesting a compensatory mechanism for increasing bone strength under conditions of decline in bone mineral density with age.

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Copyright © 2002 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd. Publisher’s version of record: https://doi.org/10.1002/oa.631

Publication Title

International Journal of Osteoarchaeology