Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Units Program: Massachusetts
Education, Research and Technical Assistance for Managing Our Natural Resources

Massachusetts Project

Regeneration of Forest Vegetation in Response to Browsing by Moose and Deer: An Experimental Approach Using Exclosures

September 2009 - December 2010


Participating Agencies

  • Cooperative Research Unit Program

Our primary objectives are to (1) quantify the composition, structure, and regeneration success of woody browse in harvested plots that are (a) protected from all browsing by moose and deer, (b) protected from moose browsing but subjected to deer browsing, and (c) subjected to all browsing from moose and deer; (2) document the amount of browsing on twigs and buds and estimate bud survival in all plot types, and (3) improve our understanding of moose browsing and its importance for the management of forest stands. With the aid of DCR and Harvard Forest personnel, we have established 3 sets of moose exclosures within the Quabbin (Prescott and Dana) and Ware River watersheds and 3 sets on Harvard Forest in Massachusetts. Each set of exclosures is comprised of 4 plots (full, partial, and paired controls). Exclosures were established in upland white pine, oak, and mixed hardwood stands that had been logged within 3-4 months before construction of exclosures. The purpose of this experiment is to determine the long-term influence of moose on the structure and species composition of the forest types. Data collected from exclosures and paired controls will be compared in order to discriminate between the effects of moose browsing and forest community succession. We now propose to build exclosures with our collaborators in the states of Connecticut, New Hampshire, and Vermont. This will greatly increase the scope of the research, make the findings applicable to all of southern New England, and involve the Cooperative Research Unit program in a multistate program of research with important regional management implications.