Browsing regime and growth response of Abies alba saplings planted along light gradients
- Journal Article
Rights / licenseIn Copyright - Non-Commercial Use Permitted
Silver fir is a highly desirable species in European mountain forests from a management and conservation point of view, but it is also highly palatable for ungulates. We planted Abies alba saplings along natural light gradients to explore under natural browsing: (1) the light conditions under which saplings grow best in the absence of browsing; (2) when and by which ungulate species which saplings are browsed; and (3) under which conditions saplings react most vigorously to browsing. The experiment was carried out in a Swiss forest using four fenced plots each containing about 30 saplings planted in 2001, which were between 17 and 100 cm tall in 2009. For half of the saplings, browsing was allowed and filmed from April 2009 to January 2010. Saplings grew better with more light (13 % rather than 10 % canopy openness). Browsing was not a single event per sapling but a continuous process during the winter months. Almost all saplings exposed to browsing suffered heavy browsing by chamois and red deer, but no roe deer browsing was observed. The remainder of the browsed shoots were longer and contained more buds under 13 % canopy openness. The browsing-induced height differences between browsed and unbrowsed trees increased over time under all light conditions, and almost no diameter growth was measured in the years after browsing. In cases with severe browsing, management aimed at letting in more light does not lead to a substantially better tolerance of browsing. We thus recommend integrating the “feeding strength” in the assessment of browsing. Show more
Journal / seriesEuropean Journal of Forest Research
Pages / Article No.
SubjectUngulate browsing; Herbivory; Silver fir; Natural regeneration; Canopy openness
Organisational unit03535 - Bugmann, Harald / Bugmann, Harald
NotesIt was possible to publish this article open access thanks to a Swiss National Licence with the publisher.
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