Influence of soil scarification on reindeer foraging and damage to planted Pinus sylvestris seedlings
Abstract:The effects of soil scarification on reindeer lichen cover and re-establishment, reindeer foraging and damage possibly caused by reindeer to planted Scots pine seedlings were studied during six growing periods in a field experiment established in a reindeer lichen site that was grazed by a herd of 500–600 reindeer each winter. Seedlings (at a density equivalent to 2000 ha −1 ) were planted in mounds with mineral soil on top, in tracks with exposed mineral soil, in tracks with mixed organic material and mineral soil and in intact lichen mat (control) with no soil disturbance. The disturbed area varied from 0 to 28%. After six growing periods, the reindeer lichen cover and volume were 10–20% lower in the scarified plots than in the control plots. There was no clear evidence that the reindeer avoided foraging even in plots with the highest levels of soil disturbance. However, the behaviour of the reindeer during winter grazing seemed to be affected by both coverage of reindeer lichen (positively) and the proportion of exposed mineral soil (negatively). Damage possibly caused by reindeer trampling affected 8.2% of the living seedlings each year and approximately 50% of these seedlings were subsequently infected by fungal diseases (compared with 20% of viable undamaged seedlings). Scarification treatments that exposed mineral soil mildly resulted in higher survival and growth rates than the other treatments, especially the control.
Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: 2006-06-01