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Browsing of sallow (Salix caprea L.) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) in the context of life history strategies: a literature review

Abstract

Sallow (Salix caprea L.) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) constitute small proportions of the deciduous tree volume in Scandinavia, but are highly preferred winter forage for moose and red deer, which occur at historically high densities. Thus, a possible decline of these tree species has been indicated. Against this background, we have reviewed the life histories of relevance for browsing, as well as the basic biology and genetics of sallow and rowan. The species show similarities with respect to short lifespan, small size and sympodial growth pattern, which are risk factors in a browsing context. They also have high juvenile growth rate, important for growing quickly out of reach of browsers. Sallow depends strongly on disturbance for establishment and is more demanding with respect to soil and light conditions than rowan, possibly important for the substantially lower abundance of sallow on the Norwegian Forest Inventory plots. Similarly, the relative recruitment of small size classes of sallow is less than for rowan. Although recruitment is reported to be hampered in wintering areas with high moose or red deer densities, the inventory data, however, dating only back to 1994, do not suggest a general decrease in any of the species. Sallow and rowan saplings show low mortality in moose and deer dominated areas and the species can be characterised as rather resilient to browsing. Of more concern is that browsing can constrain the development of mature rowan and sallow trees locally, with possible consequences for associated epiphytic biodiversity.

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Acknowledgments

This work was financed by the Norwegian Genetic Resource Centre, the Research Council of Norway (Miljø 2015, 184036) and the Norwegian Forest and Landscape Institute. We thank Wibecke Nordstrøm for proof reading, and Christer M. Rolandsen for help with the graphics.

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The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

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Myking, T., Solberg, E.J., Austrheim, G. et al. Browsing of sallow (Salix caprea L.) and rowan (Sorbus aucuparia L.) in the context of life history strategies: a literature review. Eur J Forest Res 132, 399–409 (2013). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10342-013-0684-3

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Keywords

  • Browsing effects
  • Regeneration
  • Forest inventory
  • Disturbance
  • Forestry
  • Moose
  • Red deer