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Effect of game browsing on natural regeneration of European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.) forests in the Krušné hory Mts. (Czech Republic and Germany)


Tree damage by game browsing is one of the biggest threats to forest ecosystems at the time of climate change and large-scale forest disturbances. The aim of the paper was to determine the effect of browsing by ungulates on the diversity, abundance and species composition of natural regeneration in forest stands dominated by European beech (Fagus sylvatica L.). The research was conducted on 10 permanent research plots in the Krušné hory Mts. in the Czech Republic and Germany. The density of natural regeneration was in the range of 23,300–114,100 recruits ha−1. A higher proportion of silver birch (Betula pendula Roth.) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) was found in the regeneration compared to the mature stands. A total of 78% of recruits was damaged by browsing. The most frequently damaged tree species were sycamore (Acer pseudoplatanus L.; 98%) and black alder (Alnus glutinosa [L.] Gaertn.; 97%), while Norway spruce (Picea abies [L.] Karst; 31%) and sessile oak (Quercus petraea [Matt.] Liebl.; 50%) were the least affected. Seventy-nine percent of European beech recruits were damaged. The game significantly reduced the height of regeneration by up to 40%, especially by terminal browsing. Browsing also negatively affected the quality and abundance of regeneration. For successful dynamics of species-rich natural forest ecosystems, it is necessary to minimize tree damage by game browsing. These main measures include the reduction of ungulate population levels and the optimization of their age structure and sex ratio, an increase in the number of overwintering enclosures and food fields for game and a change in the political approach to game management with sufficient consideration of forestry interests.

Calendario de la edición:
4 veces al año
Temas de la revista:
Life Sciences, Plant Science, Ecology, other