Woody plants are an important component of rangeland habitat, providing food and shelter for animals that range in size from moose to warblers to insects. Because of this importance, land managers are paying increased attention to browse trends. In this two-part article, we describe how browse trend is assessed at the Mt. Haggin Wildlife Management Area in southwestern Montana. Willows are currently heavily browsed, but there is evidence that browsing pressure was lower in the past. Heavily-browsed 14-inch-tall plants grow in close proximity to 16-foot-tall plants, the tallest stems of which are unbrowsed. The 16-foot-tall stems are older than the 14-inch-tall stems, and apparently grew through the browse zone when browsing pressure was lower than its current level. An increase in browsing pressure would be consistent with the increase in the moose population that occurred over the past 3 decades.
Additional publication details
Assessing browse trend at the landscape level Part 1: Preliminary steps and field survey