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Browsing damage on broadleaved trees in semi-natural temperate forest in Sweden, with a focus on oak regeneration

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Absence of, or poor, oak ( Quercus spp.) regeneration is a problem in uneven-aged, mixed closed-canopy broadleaved forests. Browsing by ungulates on small trees may contribute to poor oak regeneration in such forests. This possibility was investigated in 25 Swedish stands, and browsing damage was analysed in relation to landscape and stand factors. The proportion of browsed small (<20 cm tall) oak seedlings and other seedlings was low, and apparently a minor mortality factor. For saplings (20–130 cm tall), accumulated browsing damage was generally higher on oak than on five major competing tree species: Fraxinus excelsior , Corylus avellana , Tilia cordata , Acer platanoides and Sorbus aucuparia . Leaf removal was rare in late summer, except for rowan. The amount of cover (shelter) for ungulates near plots was positively correlated with oak browsing intensity; within plots, a high density of ash saplings may reduce browsing on oak saplings. In these forests, browsing probably retards growth of oak saplings relative to competing trees. Oak may persist as a minor stand component, but monitoring is needed to study future changes.
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Keywords: Mixed closed-canopy forest; Quercus; oak and broadleaved trees; oak regeneration; ungulate browsing

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Zoology, Göteborg University, Göteborg, Sweden 2: Department of Ecology and Environmental Science, Umeå University, Umeå, Sweden 3: Mathematical Statistics, Department of Mathematics, Göteborg University and Chalmers University of Technology, Göteborg, Sweden

Publication date: 2005-05-01

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