Differential effects of herbivory on aspen forest regeneration and recruitment

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All three ungulate species had significant and similar effects on aspen regeneration success, but when adjusted for differences in estimated forage intake (animal unit months), differential impacts became apparent (deer > elk > cattle). We estimated that 4 cattle per camera−1 day−1 and 2.5 deer or elk per camera−1 day−1 was sufficient to reach the critical recruitment threshold of 60% removal of apical meristems. We conclude that ungulates species differentially influence aspen regeneration and recruitment, and that ungulate browsing above 30% meristem removal impairs aspen recruitment with recruitment failure occurring above 60% meristem loss.

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