Ecological Research

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 563–574 | Cite as

Cascading effects of moose (Alces alces) management on birds

Original Article


Large herbivores often have key functions in their ecosystems, and may affect ecosystem processes with cascading effects on other animals. The mechanisms often involve relocations of resources of various kinds, including reduction in resource availability following foraging and increase in resources from animal excreta. As large herbivore populations in Europe generally are intensely managed, management activities may interact with the activities of the herbivores themselves in the effect on other ecosystem components. We investigated the effects of moose (Alces alces) winter browsing, together with the effect of net nutrient input via supplementary winter feeding of moose on functional composition and species richness of birds in a boreal forest. Supplementary feeding stations for moose had a net zero effect on bird species richness and abundance, because negative effects of moose browsing were balanced by positive effects of nutrient input. Sites with a similar browsing intensity as at feeding stations but without nutrient input had lower abundance and species richness than feeding stations. Functional groups of bird species showed differing responses: birds nesting at or below browsing height were negatively affected by moose browsing, whereas species nesting above the browsing zone were positively affected by moose browsing. Insect-eating species responded negatively to moose browsing on birch but positively to nutrient input at feeding stations, whereas seed-eating species responded positively to birch browsing and negatively to feeding stations. This study showed that both high levels of cervid activity and human management interventions influence bird communities.


Bird diversity Boreal forest Functional group Herbivory Supplementary feeding 



We thank Beate B. Bakke, Marcus Fisher, Christoph Grüner, Lars Hemsing, Christian Jeschke, Henry Stumpf and Roy Ågedal for carrying out fieldwork very early in the morning. Thanks to Kjell Danell, Inga-Lill Persson, Roger Bergström and Jos Milner for reading the manuscript and giving good comments. We are grateful to Harry P. Andreassen and Erlend B. Nilsen for the idea behind this study. We also thank Hedmark University College and the Research Council of Norway for giving financial support to this research.


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Copyright information

© The Ecological Society of Japan 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Forestry and Wildlife ManagementHedmark University CollegeElverumNorway
  2. 2.Department of Wildlife, Fish, and Environmental Studies, Faculty of Forest SciencesSwedish University of Agricultural SciencesUmeåSweden

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