Infoscience

Journal article

Short-term effects of cattle browsing on tree sapling growth in mountain wooded pastures

Browsing by livestock has been identified as an important factor preventing tree regeneration in wooded pastures. Two field experiments were performed to investigate the effects of cattle browsing on tree sapling growth in a mountainwooded pasture. Two size classes (ca. 12–17 cm and 41–59 cm) of each of 4 species (Picea abies, Abies alba, Acer pseudoplatanus and Fagus sylvatica) were exposed to zero, low and high grazing intensities. We measured the proportion of saplings browsed and the effect of browsing on growth. A mowing treatment within the zero grazing intensity treatment showed no significant effect on sapling growth. One percent of the large saplings but 25% of the small saplings escaped browsing. Saplings were better protected when surrounded by taller vegetation. The proportion of saplings browsed was not significantly different among species although evergreen tree saplings lost a larger proportion of biomass than deciduous species when browsed. Under grazing, average current-year shoot production and total aboveground biomass of all species were significantly reduced. Browsing effects tended to be smaller at the lower grazing intensity. Because the deciduous species were least reduced in aboveground growth, especially under the low grazing intensity, we conclude that at least in short-term, deciduous species are less affected by cattle browsing.

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