SHOOT GROWTH OF BETULA PENDULA AND B. PUBESCENS IN RELATION TO MOOSE BROWSING
Birches are important food plants for moose in Sweden. Of the two closely-related species Betula pendula Roth and B. pubescens Ehrh. Moose prefer B. pendula during the winter. This study compared the shoot growth and architecture of the two species for both unbrowsed and browsed birches. Unbrowsed B. pendula generally produced heavier current annual shoots than unbrowsed B. pubescens. After browsing both species responded by producing shoots which were longer, thicker, heavier and more often branched. In addition, browsing, caused shoot growth to occur at lower heights. The responses to browsing were more pronounced in B. pendula. Moose bites occurred most frequently between 1.0-2.0 m in height. Within this interval moose encountered on previously browsed B. pendula, about three time more biomass of current annual shoots, than on unbrowsed trees of the same age.
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