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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2019

  • Title: Assessing the long-term outcomes of browsing by moose and deer on regenerating temperate forests
  • Primary Author: Edward Faison (Highstead, Inc.)
  • Additional Authors: Stephen DeStefano (USGS Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit)
  • Abstract:

    It is well established that browsing by forest ungulates has large impacts on forest regeneration in the first five years following a major disturbance such as timber harvest. Tree seedling and sapling density, stem height, basal area, and diversity generally decline with increased browsing, as do the densities of browse sensitive or palatable species such as eastern hemlock and oaks. Less palatable or more browse tolerant species such as black birch, black cherry, and white pine tend to increase in relative abundance. However, much less is known about the outcomes of these initial changes on later stages of stand development, after much of the woody vegetation has grown out of the reach of the browsers. Do the legacies of strong early browsing impacts persist in older stands? Or do stands that were heavily browsed begin to converge with stands protected from browsing once herbivory is no longer a dominant controlling force?
    We plan to address these questions in the summer of 2019 at our moose and deer experimental plots (no ungulates, deer only, and deer + moose) located in eight patch cut harvests at the Harvard Forest, DCR Watershed forests, and Great Mountain Forest in Connecticut. Most of these experimental plots are now over 10 years old (range is from 9 to 11.5 years old) and have not been sampled since 2014. We plan to sample all woody stems above 2 cm DBH in 16 x 16 m plots at each site.

  • Research Category: Large Experiments and Permanent Plot Studies; Conservation and Management; Biodiversity Studies