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Article

Moose Browsing Tends Spruce Plantations More Efficiently Than a Single Mechanical Release

1
Department of Biology, Laval University, Quebec City, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
2
Centre for Forest Research (CEF), Pavillon Abitibi-Price, Quebec City, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
3
Centre for Northern Studies (CEN), Pavillon Abitibi-Price, Quebec City, QC G1V 0A6, Canada
4
Canadian Wood Fibre Centre, Natural Resources Canada, Quebec City, QC G1V 4C7, Canada
5
Northern Research Station, Forestry Sciences Laboratory, U.S. Forest Service, Irvine, PA 16365, USA
6
Direction de la Recherche Forestière, Ministère des Forêts, de la Faune et des Parcs du Québec, Québec (MFFP), Quebec City, QC G1P 3W8, Canada
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Forests 2020, 11(11), 1138; https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111138
Received: 24 September 2020 / Revised: 16 October 2020 / Accepted: 23 October 2020 / Published: 28 October 2020
Forest vegetation management can improve planted seedling survival and growth and is thus widely used in plantation silviculture. In some jurisdictions, mechanical release using brushsaws has replaced the traditional use of chemical herbicides for forest vegetation management purposes. However, its associated costs and the increasing difficulty of finding qualified labor represent a challenge. The browsing of competition by large herbivores may represent an alternative to mechanical release when planted seedlings are resistant to browsing. Here, we compare the efficacy of moose browsing relative to mechanical release in controlling competing vegetation and in promoting white spruce growth in plantations. In a high moose density region, we used an experimental design consisting of four pairs of moose exclosures and unfenced plots; fifty percent of both the access-restricted and unrestricted study areas received a mechanical release treatment. Moose browsing was more efficient than mechanical release in diminishing the sapling density and basal area of competing species. Mechanical release only reduced the sapling density of taller competitors (height > 201 cm), whereas browsing reduced the sapling densities of competitors across a greater size range (height > 130 cm). These effects of moose browsing on competition translated into a greater positive effect of moose browsing on the basal area of planted spruces. We attribute the higher effectiveness of moose browsing relative to mechanical release to its chronic nature. Moose browsed continuously throughout the year and for multiple years, whereas mechanical release was applied only one time between the second and fourth years after planting. Our results suggest that pairing wildlife management and silviculture decisions could be in the best interest of both the hunting and forestry industries in regions where plantations are frequent and use browse-resistant crop trees. Favouring browsers in controlling the density of competing species could increase the hunting experience and income, while providing an effective, cost-free, and socially acceptable forest vegetation management service. View Full-Text
Keywords: vegetation control; silviculture; competition; Alces alces; Picea; herbivore; ungulate vegetation control; silviculture; competition; Alces alces; Picea; herbivore; ungulate
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MDPI and ACS Style

De Vriendt, L.; Thiffault, N.; Royo, A.A.; Barrette, M.; Tremblay, J.-P. Moose Browsing Tends Spruce Plantations More Efficiently Than a Single Mechanical Release. Forests 2020, 11, 1138. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111138

AMA Style

De Vriendt L, Thiffault N, Royo AA, Barrette M, Tremblay J-P. Moose Browsing Tends Spruce Plantations More Efficiently Than a Single Mechanical Release. Forests. 2020; 11(11):1138. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111138

Chicago/Turabian Style

De Vriendt, Laurent, Nelson Thiffault, Alejandro A. Royo, Martin Barrette, and Jean-Pierre Tremblay. 2020. "Moose Browsing Tends Spruce Plantations More Efficiently Than a Single Mechanical Release" Forests 11, no. 11: 1138. https://doi.org/10.3390/f11111138

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