Resilience of willow stems after release from intense elk browsing

Rangeland Ecology and Management
By: , and 



The resilience of willow (Salix monticola Bebb, Salix geyeriana Anderss., Salix planifolia Pursh) stems released from intense elk (Cervus elaphus) browsing in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado, was quantified in 1998 with a retrospective study that compared biomass, number, and length of segments on willow stems located inside (protected) and outside (browsed) elk exclosures. Segment biomass increased each year after protection by about 3–12 g year−1 on browsed stems and 10–27 g year−1 on protected stems. The number of segments on stems was similar for browsed and protected stems in the first 2 years after exclusion but differed in the next 3 years, when they increased exponentially on protected stems. Nearly 80% of segments on browsed stems were < 5 cm in length in 1994–1997, which caused stems to develop a short-hedged morphology. Protected stems had more long segments and fewer short segments than browsed stems for the first 3 years, but then increased their number of short segments as stems became tall and bushy. Thus, evidence suggests short-hedged willow stems are highly resilient and can rapidly recover height and vigor after protection from intense elk browsing.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Resilience of willow stems after release from intense elk browsing
Series title Rangeland Ecology and Management
DOI 10.2111/05-043R.1
Volume 58
Issue 6
Year Published 2005
Language English
Publisher Society for Range Management
Contributing office(s) Fort Collins Science Center
Description 7 p.
First page 575
Last page 581