Pilipko E. N.

Trophic effect of moose (Alces Alces, L.) on coniferous undergrowth in 5–20 year-old deciduous and coniferous young forests

Abstract:

The article shows some data on the trophic activity of the moose (Alces alces, L.) as the largest dendrophage of the North-West of Russia. The aim of the work is to assess the influence of moose on coniferous undergrowth i.e. pine, fir and juniper as the most valuable species for forest management. The ‘moose-and-forest’ problem remains urgent for 50 years. The studies were conducted on the territories of clear fellings with 5–25 year-old natural deciduous and coniferous undergrowth. The fellings varied in area and composition of coniferous species. The undergrowth and young forest species have been counted and various types of mechanical damage caused by the moose have been recorded such as tip breaking, bark browsing. annual lateral shoots biting and tree trunks breaking. Considering the forage capacity of the land the optimal number of moose is given. A forecast based on the repeated observations has been made on the survival of the damaged specimens of pines and junipers. As a result of the research, it has been revealed that the stock of woody forage in different areas of young forests with the same species composition affects the condition of the coniferous species damaged by the moose. Pine is the most preferred of the coniferous species, juniper is the next. During the studies the moose was not interested in spruce as in fodder. A greater percentage of damage to pine and juniper was found in 5–25 year-old deciduous and coniferous undergrowth of a small area (4.2 hectares) surrounded by vast territories of fresh clear fellings. In larger areas due to a sufficient amount of deciduous forage not only on the overgrown felling site but also in the land adjacent to it no significant damage was found. The percentage of lost trees of the considered species is moderate. According to our forecasts, on a small trial plot the species composition of forest biogeocenosis can eventually change from pine to spruce. The moose is known to prefer mosaic habitats, therefore, in order to prevent elemination of coniferous species, it is necessary to keep the optimal cutting area on adjoining territories which will eventually be used as fodder lands by the moose.

About the autors:

Elena Nikolaevna Pilipko, Candidate of Biological Sciences, Associate Professor, Department of Forestry.

Place of employment:

The Vereshchagin Vologda State Dairy Farming Academy.

Contacts:

e-mail: Karlovna@ukr.net.

Key words:

moose (Alces alces, L.); felling site; coniferous species; damage; optimal population; Vologda Oblast.