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Effects of roe deer browsing and site preparation on performance of planted broadleaved and conifer seedlings when using temporary fences

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The effects of fencing and site preparation on performance of birch (Betula pendula Roth), oak (Quercus robur L.), pine (Pinus sylvestris L.) and spruce [Picea abies (L.) Karst.] seedlings were studied over four growing seasons in southern Sweden. The experiment was composed of four browsing treatments, from which roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.) were excluded for 0, 12, 24 or 42 months, and four soil treatments. Natural browsing was combined with artificial browsing (clipping). It was demonstrated that browsing by roe deer could be isolated from browsing by moose (Alces alces L.) by selective fencing. Except for birch, browsing had little effect on seedling survival. Browsing reduced height growth by more than 100% for oak and pine, and more than 60% of pine seedling developed multiple stems. Except for oak, site preparation increased seedling survival. Inverting site preparation, in combination with or without fertilization, produced positive growth responses in seedlings, whereas patch scarification did not. There was no interaction between browsing and soil treatments on seedling performance. It was concluded that long-term protection against browsing by roe deer is needed for oak and pine, whereas short-term fences might be used for birch, and that spruce is relatively unaffected by browsing.

Keywords: Deer browsing; exclosure; forest regeneration; mechanical site preparation; selective fencing

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: 1: Swedish Forest Agency, Jonkoping, Sweden 2: Southern Swedish Forest Research Centre, Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Alnarp, Sweden 3: Department of Wood Design and Technology, Vaxjo University, Vaxjo, Sweden

Publication date: 2009-08-01

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