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Yellowstone's Destabilized EcosystemElk Effects, Science, and Policy Conflict$
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Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780195148213

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195148213.001.0001

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Influences on Upland System Structure III: Conifers and Deciduous Shrubs

Influences on Upland System Structure III: Conifers and Deciduous Shrubs

(p.124) 8 Influences on Upland System Structure III: Conifers and Deciduous Shrubs
Yellowstone's Destabilized Ecosystem

Frederic H. Wagner

Oxford University Press

Historic and photographic evidence of the northern range shows the absence of browsing highlines on conifers in early park years (pre-1900), their general appearance by the early 1900s, and widespread existence to the present. Architectural analysis of conifer morphology indicates an early period of light or no browsing followed by a period of heavy use, with some evidence of no reproductive replacement. Key research that would have shown elk effects on conifer trends has been denied. Historical accounts describe a number of shrub and small deciduous-tree species, many of them berry-bearing, as significant components of the northern range. Heavy browsing impacts were first reported in 1914. Exclosure studies in the 1980s showed abundant berry production by three species inside exclosures, but almost none on the outside where annual growth shoots that would produce fruit in their second year are almost entirely browsed off each year.

Keywords:   browsing-highline chronology, plant architecture, reproductive replacement, conifers, deciduous species, berry production

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