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Rodent impact on establishment of direct-seeded Fagus sylvatica, Quercus robur and Quercus petraea on forest land

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Abstract:

Seed predation by granivorous rodents constitutes a major problem during reforestation using direct seeding. Acorns or beech nuts were sown at 14 different sites in Denmark and southern Sweden, and seedling establishment was inventoried during the first three growing seasons. Around the time of sowing, rodents were either snap-trapped or live-trapped. At some sites, perches for raptors were installed, and at other sites, signs of predation were investigated or predation was monitored by camera surveillance. Granivorous rodents had a profound negative influence on sowings, and the removal of beech nuts occurred rapidly following sowing. Establishment of oak was better when surroundings consisted of mixed forests rather than broadleaved forests. Fewer rodents were caught, and establishment was better, in large reforestation areas. Rodent captures indicated that forest edges, slash piles and stone wall remains were suitable rodent microhabitats. Snap-trapping or raptor perches did not result in increased oak establishment. Neither sowing in summer nor increased seeding depth decreased predation by rodents on beech nuts. In conclusion, seeds need protection from rodents immediately at the time of sowing. Choosing large regeneration areas combined with removal of suitable rodent habitats seems to be a practical alternative for the development of successful strategies for direct seeding.

Keywords: Beech; Denmark; granivorous rodents; oak; reforestation; seed removal; southern Sweden

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02827580903055125

Affiliations: 1: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, Alnarp, Sweden 2: Skovkonsulenterne, Århus C, Denmark 3: Hogestad & Christinehofs Forvaltnings AB, Ystad, Sweden 4: Forest & Landscape Denmark, Danish Centre for Forest, Landscape and Planning, Copenhagen University, Vejle, Denmark

Publication date: August 1, 2009

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