Seven year effects of meadow vole herbivory on oak survivalThis article is part of a larger document. View the larger document here.
Seedling mortality due to meadow vole herbivory is often thought to be small scale in nature in hardwood afforestation efforts. However, in some instances, this source of mortality may play a more important role than typically realized. A total of 1,440 bare-root Nuttall oak (Quercus texana Buckley), Shumard oak (Quercus shumardii Buckley), and swamp chestnut oak (Quercus michauxii Nutt.) seedlings were planted in February 2008 on a northwest Mississippi site. Plots received treatment with one of four mechanical site preparation methods. Also, all plots received an initial post planting application of Oust XP®. In year two, one half of plots were selected for treatment with a second application of Oust XP®. Overall, seedling survival was excellent throughout the duration of the study. However, cumulative annual vole induced seedling mortality was significant and did not stabilize until the seventh year after planting. Overall seventh-year survival was 83.7 percent, with vole damage accounting for approximately 79.1 percent of all seedling/sapling mortality to date. Analyses did not detect treatment interaction with vole induced mortality in the first three years of this study. However, seventh year analyses detected significant main effect differences for both mechanical treatment and species related to vole herbivory. Vole herbivory was greater in areas receiving less intensive mechanical treatments, and Nuttall oak was preferentially selected for herbivory. While seedling survival approaching 84
percent is not normally considered poor, at 12.9 percent mortality, the level of vole damage observed in this study is of serious magnitude and may warrant consideration in planting efforts.