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Research article2012Peer reviewed

Browsing by large herbivores on Scots pine (Pinus sylvestris) seedlings in mixture with ash (Fraxinus excelsior) or silver birch (Betula pendula)

Bergqvist, Goran; Bergstrom, Roger; Wallgren, Martha


Food selection by large herbivores occurs at a hierarchy of scales, for example landscape, patch or plant. Several hypotheses regarding food plant selection on patch or plant level have been developed. In this cafeteria-type design field experiment, conducted during one winter immediately after planting, we tested the effect of species mixture on browsing by large herbivores (mainly roe deer) on Scots pine seedlings in mixture with seedlings of ash (highly preferred) or silver birch (less preferred). Browsing on Scots pine was not affected by species mixture, neither in terms of the number of browsed pines nor browsing intensity. Instead, browsed biomass was positively and significantly correlated to the total biomass available for browsing. Also, there were differences due to species, with ash being most browsed (44.6%), followed by Scots pine (18.9%) and silver birch (11.6%). Browsed biomass per browsed seedling, however, was largest for Scots pine. In addition, browsed seedlings were initially taller compared to unbrowsed seedlings for all species. The main management implication in this study is that the species mixture did not influence large herbivore browsing on Scots pine seedlings. Hence, removing or discouraging more (or less) attractive browse species in early stages of pine regeneration activities seems unnecessary from the point of large herbivore browsing.


Scots pine; ash; silver birch; browsing; species mixture; herbivores

Published in

Scandinavian Journal of Forest Research
2012, Volume: 27, number: 4, pages: 372-378

        UKÄ Subject classification

        Forest Science

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