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Wild ungulate herbivory suppresses deciduous woody plant establishment following salmonid stream restorationAuthor(s): Joshua P. Averett; Bryan A. Endress; Mary M. Rowland; Bridgett J. Naylor; Michael J. Wisdom
Source: Forest Ecology and Management. 391: 135-144.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Pacific Northwest Research Station
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Quantifying the effects of deer and elk on riparian plantings installed to improve salmon habitat
DescriptionDomestic and wild ungulates can exert strong influences on riparian woody vegetation establishment, yet little is known about how wild ungulate herbivory affects riparian restoration in the absence of cattle. We evaluated elk (Cervus elaphus) and mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) impacts on the establishment of deciduous woody riparian plantings along 11 km of Meadow Creek, a steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss) and Chinook (Oncorhynchus tshawytscha) salmon stream in northeastern Oregon, USA. We compared survival and growth between protected and unprotected plantings (from wild ungulates), and assessed the contribution of the plantings to the total deciduous woody cover after two growing seasons. Riparian use by wild ungulates was estimated by tracking a subset of the deer and elk populations using global positioning system telemetry collars. Elk riparian use was 11 times greater than deer, and in contrast to elk, deer were functionally absent from greater than 50% of the restored reach. Wild ungulate herbivory decreased planting survival by 30%, and growth by 73%, and was most detrimental to cottonwood (Populus balsamifera; increased likelihood of mortality by 5 times and suppressed growth by more than 90%). Herbivory impacts resulted in survival rates below regional criteria (50%) for restoration success after only two growing seasons. Naturally recovering shrubs accounted for 99% of the deciduous woody cover, and were mostly composed of the same species or genera as those planted. Our results suggest that wild ungulate herbivory can impede riparian restoration along salmonid streams by suppressing woody plant establishment and recovery.
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CitationAverett, Joshua P.; Endress, Bryan A.; Rowland, Mary M.; Naylor, Bridgett J.; Wisdom, Michael J. 2017. Wild ungulate herbivory suppresses deciduous woody plant establishment following salmonid stream restoration. Forest Ecology and Management. 391: 135-144. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.foreco.2017.02.017.
KeywordsElk and deer herbivory, restoration success, riparian vegetation, stream restoration, tree growth.
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