Today, red deer is the most abundant large wild grazing herbivore in Norway, but we do not know how important the grazing factor it is for the development of patterns and processes in Norwegian landscapes. Nature conservationists have raised concerns that the growing deer population may harm biodiversity and ecological processes. Such knowledge require long-term studies on ecological dynamics that are generally not feasible within regular research project funding. Large efforts and investments have alre ady been made in experimental design and data collection which will benefit the current project. Twelve sites were established in 2001 across the island Svanøy. The experiments were created by establishing a grazing exclosure and an ungulate grazed contro l area (100m2) per site. We have also estimated a gradient in grazing intensity by monitoring the presence of pellet groups. This gradient approach adds the possibility to connect grazing effects to indirect density measures of deer that cannot be attaine d by experimental data alone. Detailed sampling of vegetation has been performed in permanent plots since 2001. Information on dynamics of all forest layers, as well as key plant species will have time series of 10 years in 2011. The combination of an e xperimental study design and a gradient approach is one of the primary strengths of this proposal. In addition we have planned new data recordings prepared together with top national and international scientists, which will broaden the generated knowled ge to indirect effects of deer grazing. This will include analysis of population dynamics of a dominant and ecological important plant species in relation to grazing and resources and indirect effects on the invertebrate community by a network approach an d by testing edibility of important food plants. Moreover, we have designed a special research module to deal with the transfer of knowledge from science to wildlife managers, a prime motivation for this project.
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