Multiflora rose (Rosa multiflora [MFR]) is an invasive, nonnative plant that has invaded many temperate forests across the eastern United States, often outcompeting native plants for sunlight and other resources. Herbicides can control MFR, but they can also reduce nontarget plant species and threaten aquatic ecosystems. In a black cherry-red maple forest in the Erie National Wildlife Refuge in Pennsylvania, the US Fish and Wildlife Service introduced prescribed goat-browsing as an exploratory control method. In four treatments, browsed, browsed/herbicide, cut/herbicide, and an unmanaged reference, we evaluated preliminary effects of these treatments on MFR and non-MFR herbaceous vegetation. For MFR, the browsed treatment had 56% lower leaf/stem mass ratios and 35% shorter stem lengths than the reference; the leaf/stem ratio in the cut/herbicide treatment was 55% lower than the reference. Stem density was not reduced because goats did not kill the MFR plants in this first year of treatment. The herbicide treatment had fewer non-MFR plants than the reference treatment. Light levels at ground level did not differ among the treatments. Overall, 33% of trees in the browsed treatment were affected by the goats, with 9% being completely girdled; red maple and ironwood were the most commonly browsed species. Preliminary results suggest that goats can be an effective control for MFR, however long-term success will be best evaluated after consecutive treatment seasons. Goats may increase tree mortality and shift tree species composition in stands dominated by trees with high browsing rates, but effects on diverse stands may be less pronounced.
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Vol. 42 • No. 3