Winter Food Availability for Wild Herbivores Depending on the Type of Forest Regeneration
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This study compares the amount of available biomass for wild herbivores (red deer (Cervus elaphus L.), roe deer (Capreolus capreolus L.), and hare (Lepus europaeus Pallas)) depending on three different types of forest silvicultural systems-presented using the example of beech and spruce stands in wintertime. During the winter period, spruce provided ten times more biomass for herbivores than beech. However, beech provided more metabolizable energy, 7.38 MJ/kg on average, whereas spruce only provided 6.57 MJ/kg. From the point of view of "risk of damage by herbivores", artificial regeneration suffered the worst damage after using the Clear Cutting method of forest regeneration, as there was the least amount of biomass available, and thus, herbivores caused the greatest damage. On average, 12% of shoots were damaged in clearings. Most at risk was young forest vegetation up to 1 m tall. In summer, the area was overgrown with available plants, but in winter, the herbivores focused mainly on eating woody shoots. Damage to the natural regeneration when using the Shelterwood Cutting and Strip Cutting regeneration methods ranged up to 3%. At the same time, a high amount of available biomass was measured there, most likely due to its frequent natural regeneration. Thus, both types of trees regenerated in this way were not as susceptible to damage by herbivores as when regenerated using the Clear Cutting method.