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Browsing of tree regeneration by white-tailed deer in large clearcuts on Anticosti Island, Quebec

Forest Ecology and Management
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1016/j.foreco.2007.07.009
  • White-Tailed Deer
  • Browsing
  • High Density
  • Tree Regeneration
  • Clearcuts


Abstract Browsing by the substantial population of white-tailed deer ( Odocoileus virginianus Zimmermann) on Anticosti Island hampers the regeneration of balsam fir ( Abies balsamea (L.) Mill.), which is both the deer's preferred food and shelter. The island's original fir stands have gradually been replaced by stands of white spruce ( Picea glauca (Moench) Voss), as this species is rarely browsed by the deer. This project assesses the impact on the regeneration of balsam fir and companion species by large clearcuts performed using cutting with protection of regeneration and soils (CPRS). To this end, fenced-off areas adjacent to unfenced areas were established in 1995 and 1996 in large CPRS clearcuts. The results show that the distance from forest edge does not influence the stocking, number and height of seedlings, while browsing does reduce these variables in the case of fir and paper birch ( Betula papyrifera Marsh.). However, stocking, number and height of white spruce seedlings were unaffected by both deer browsing and distance from forest edge. Woody debris seemed to protect balsam fir seedlings from browsing 8 years after cutting, but this protection should likely stop when seedlings will outgrow woody debris. It thus appears that large CPRS clearcuts will not permit the regeneration of balsam fir on a level sufficient for re-establishing fir stands on Anticosti Island.

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