Aspen (Populus tremuloides Michx.) is a disturbance-dependent, fire-resilient, shade-intolerant, clonal species that is in decline throughout western North America. The objective of this study was to examine the effects of intensity and season of browsing on annual height growth of aspen suckers. The goal was to aid development of livestock grazing strategies to restore stands in decline due to excessive livestock browsing. We implemented 33 combinations of intensity and season of browse on aspen suckers in three aspen stands on Eagle Lake Range District, Lassen National Forest, California, USA, during 2003 and 2004. Greatest growth was on suckers with no terminal leader browse and ≤ 25% of biomass removed from branches. Lowest growth occurred when 90% of terminal leader length and 50% of branch biomass was removed. Growth was most negatively affected by browse on terminal leader. Growth was lowest for suckers browsed midseason only and suckers browsed both early and midseason. Occurrence of conifer in the stand overstory significantly reduced sucker growth. Managers should minimize browse on terminal leaders, midseason browse over consecutive years, and repeated browse during a growing season.
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Vol. 62 • No. 6