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Conference abstract, 2016

Shaping the Swedish landscape: a future for the Gotland russ

Jansson, Anna; Edenius, Lars; Dahlborn, Kristina; Ringmark, Sara; Steen, Margareta; Öckinger, Erik; Thulin, Carl-Gustaf; Skarin, Anna


Tree encroachment and abandonment of pastures is an important cause of biodiversity loss in Sweden. In thisstudy, we evaluate the impact of all-year-around grazing by an ancient horse breed, the Gotland russ (GR),on tree encroachment. Twelve GR stallions were kept in 3 enclosures (lat: 59, long: 17, 4 GR/enclosure, 7ha forest and 3 ha open fields/enclosure) from May 2014 (age 1 yrs) until February 2016. Prior to the study,3 exclosures (EX, 5×42.5 m) where GR grazing was excluded were centered with the long side at the borderbetween forest and field. The field part of EX were further divided into four 5×5 m sections starting from theforest (1 to 4). Tree type (deciduous, spruce or pine), number and height were registered in the sections and theequivalent, grazed area adjacent to the EX on the 25th of February 2016. Body condition (BC) was assessedweekly using a 9 leveled scoring system. Individuals <4 were withdrawn, fed and reintroduced when BC was>4. Analysis of tree heights and numbers were made by procGLM in SAS. There was no difference in the totalnumber of deciduous trees (21±8 vs 25±8), spruces (2±1 vs 3±1) and pines (0.2±0.2 vs 0.8±0.2) between EXand grazed areas (P>0.05). In the grazed areas, the deciduous trees were shorter compared to the trees in EX(330±57 vs 780±70 mm, P<0.0001). There was no difference in spruce height (EX: 920±110 vs grazed areas:780±130 mm, P=0.31). In the grazed areas, tree height decreased from quarter 1 to 4 (1: 610±60, 2: 230±110, 3:140±90 and 4: 60±100 mm, P<0.0001) whereas in EX, the height increased (1: 740±60, 2: 570±150, 3: 810±90and 4: 960±100 mm, P<0.02). Four individuals (3 from the same enclosure) were withdrawn temporarily inFebruary 2015 due to BC <4. The study show that grazing by GR may inhibit encroachment by deciduoustrees and that BC was maintained in most individuals, despite the semi-feral conditions. The results providea new use for a threatened, ancient breed in landscape management.

Published in

Book title: Book of Abstracts of the 67th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science
ISBN: 978-90-8686-284-9
Publisher: Wageningen Academic Publishers


67th Annual Meeting of the European Federation of Animal Science