Wild Herbivore Forage Preferences in Semi-Natural Mountain Hay-Meadows

Adrian GLIGA, Dumitrița DASCĂLU

Abstract


In the context of increasing grassland abandonment we observed wild herbivore impact on the vegetation in order to understand their influence. To quantify semi-natural grassland usage by wild herbivores, we determined grazing intake in semi-natural hay-meadows surrounded by forest vegetation. Grazing exclusion cages were placed at three locations in the Valea Mare village area situated in Bistriţa-Năsăud County, Romania, from 1 April 2014 – 5 October 2014. Sampling took place at two times during this period, first shortly before the hay meadows were mowed and second at the end of the vegetation growing season. Herbage air dry matter yield was measured using two types of observation plots (cage protected plots and unprotected plots). Plant composition on the studied hay-meadows was analyzed using PC-ORD (in order to explain the preference of herbivores for each location. Although herbage production did not vary significantly between locations, the herbage intake of total dry matter production did vary between locations. Wild animals grazed through the entire growing season and based upon the floristic composition analyses we explained differences in herbage intake based on plant species preference. The management of these meadows maintains an offer of good quality forage throughout summer, and the forest surrounding grasslands provides cover when needed. In order to inhibit woody vegetation and to conserve species-rich open landscape further observation need to be made about the optimal deer species densities.

Keywords


exclusion cage; forage intake; preference; semi-natural grassland; wild ungulates.

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15835/buasvmcn-agr:2020.0038




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