Compatibility of regeneration silviculture and wild ungulates
in a Mediterranean pine forest: implications for tree
recruitment and woody plant diversity
Alfonso San Miguel
Received: 4 April 2017 /Accepted: 19 February 2018 /Published online: 13 March 2018
INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2018
Key message Small-scale forest interventions (< 0.75 ha) promoted advanced regeneration and woody plant beta-
diversity without increasing ungulate habitat use and detrimental browsing damage. Rubbing damage by ungulates
was higher in the treated areas and no effect was found on woody plant alpha-diversity.
Context Adapted silviculture is needed to promote forest persistence and plant diversity in the current context of wild ungulate
Aims This study examines the ungulate effects on tree recruitment and woody plant diversity after silviculture treatments
(small-scale regeneration fellings on Pinus species).
Methods We compared tree recruitment, browsing/rubbing damage, and woody plant diversity on 17 pairs of control/treated
areas in an ungulate-dominated Pinus halepensis forest.
Results Recruitment levels were significantly higher in the treated areas as compared to intact (control) plots only for large
saplings and juveniles (> 130-cm high). Ungulates did not use the treated areas more often than the control plots but caused
significantly greater rubbing damage in the treated areas. Silvicultural treatments did not have a significant effect on alpha woody
plant diversity but did promote beta-diversity, with a 49.7% woody species turnover. We did not find any clear patterns indicating
that the treated areas suffered heavier browsing damage across all woody plant species.
Conclusion This study highlights that small-scale forest interventions (< 0.75 ha) are small enough to avoid greater habitat use
and browsing damage by ungulates but sufficiently large to promote advanced regeneration (large saplings and juveniles), with
the additional benefit of increasing woody plant heterogeneity and structural diversity.
Keywords Ammotragus lervia
Understanding the effects of wild herbivores on plant compo-
sition, tree regeneration, and forest persistence is crucial to de-
fine adequate management practices, particularly in the current
context of increasing rates of wild ungulates (Côté et al. 2004;
Massei et al. 2015). Forest management through silvicultural
practices can help promote forest regeneration and persistence
in areas where wild ungulates are abundant or overabundant
(Heikkilä and Härkönen 1996; Bugmann and Weisberg 2003;
Mansson et al. 2010; Edenius et al. 2014). In fact, new
ungulate-adapted silvicultural practices have been proposed to
reduce conflicts between wild ungulates and forest managers
This article is part of the topical collection on Mediterranean pines
Handling Editor: Barry Alan Gardiner
Contribution of the co-authors MV collected and analyzed the data,
and wrote the first draft; ASM and RE conceived the experiments and
reviewed the Ms; RP designed the experiments, collected the data, wrote
some parts of the text, and supervised the work.
* Ramón Perea
Departamento de Sistemas y Recursos Naturales, Universidad
Politécnica de Madrid, Ciudad Universitaria s/n,
28040 Madrid, Spain
Annals of Forest Science (2018) 75: 35