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Macroecological Research in Boreal Forest Reveals the Effects of Moose on Economically and Ecologically Important Tree Species

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P. Angelstam, S. Pedersen, M. Manton

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How to manage the impact of a large moose population on the economically important Scots pine, and on ecologically important mature aspen, rowan and willow trees as habitat for lichen, moss, insect and bird species, are hot topics in Fennoscandia for forest and wildlife managers. To understand if the study design affects conclusions about the impact of moose browsing damage on young trees of economic and ecological importance we used three macroecological approaches: (1) a comparison of Swedish forest landscapes managed for intensive coniferous wood production, (2) a natural experiment approach that compared forests with different abundance of moose in Sweden, and (3) a comparison of browsing damage across six countries in northern Europe from Norway in the west to Russia in the east. The results show that Sweden had high moose densities across all landscapes studied, high overall rates of browsing damage, and therefore a weak relationship between moose density and browsing damages. A comparison between managed forest landscapes and urban forest areas, which are less accessible to moose, showed a clear effect of moose density on tree damage of both economically and ecologically important tree species. Finally, across 10 landscapes in Sweden, Norway, Finland, Latvia, Belarus and Russia we found that moose had a strong effect on damage to both groups of tree species. Research design affects the conclusions about the role of moose density for browsing damage on economically and ecologically valuable tree species. Macroecological studies in landscapes, representing different contexts on the European continent’s West and East, form a valuable approach to produce new knowledge. We discuss the need for integration of the management of moose and their predators (including man) as well as forest management and biodiversity conservation planning.


Per Angelstam1, 2, PhD, Professor
Simen Pedersen2 , Associate Professor
Michael Manton3, Research Officer

Authors job

1Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, PO Box 43, SE-739 21, Skinnskatteberg, Sweden; e-mail:
2Inland Norway University of Applied Sciences, Campus Evenstad, N-2480, Koppang, Norway; e-mail:
3Institute of Forest Biology and Silviculture, Aleksandras Stulginskis University, Studentu, 13, Akademija, Kauno, LT-53362, Lithuania; e-mail:


boreal forest, moose, biodiversity conservation, forest landscape management, green infrastructure, landscape restoration, macroecology, spatial planning trophic interactions


We acknowledge FORMAS (grant number 2011-1737) for funding this research

For citation

Angelstam P., Pedersen S., Manton M. Macroecological Research in Boreal Forest Reveals the Effects of Moose on Economically and Ecologically Important Tree Species. Lesnoy zhurnal [Forestry journal], 2018, no. 4, pp. 9–18. DOI: 10.17238/issn0536-1036.2018.4.9


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Received on April 24, 2018

Macroecological Research in Boreal Forest Reveals the Effects of Moose on Economically and Ecologically Important Tree Species