Current issue: 56(2)
Resistance to browsing by mammals differs among birch species, and among origins and families of European white birch (Betula pendula Roth). The variation in resistance is large even among individual seedlings of the same family.
On the surface of the bark of European white birch seedlings there are resin droplets, and the number of droplets is strongly and positively correlated with resistance to browsing by hares. The resistance of European white birch apparently is not expensive metabolically because the rapid growth rate of seedlings was positively correlated with hare resistance, and no correlation was found between seedling size and vole resistance. In cafeteria experiments voles and hares were very discriminating in their feeding on birch seedlings. In field experiments, however, environmental heterogeneity partly masked differences in vole resistance among birch families. Fertilization of seedlings seems not to have a clear effect on resistance to hares. On the other hand, there were indications that greenhouse temperature had an effect on resistance to voles. Practical forestry applications of differences in resistance, e.g. use of species hybrids and clonal forestry, are discussed. The prospects for resistance breeding are good.
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