Subject: Biology And Life Sciences, Forestry Keywords: Polish primitive horse, forest site type, herb layer, undergrowth layer, understory layer, biodiversity
Online: 21 March 2019 (10:04:14 CET)
The study was conducted in coniferous and deciduous old growth forests in two forest complexes located in: i) the fenced area of the Popielno Research Station of the Polish Academy of Sciences, with free-living Polish pony [Polish primitive horse (Equus ferus caballus)], and ii) open Maskulińskie Forest District managed (harvested) forest, without horses. The impact of forest animals on ground cover layer as well as on understory shrub layer and undergrowth, in i) area (horses and other forest animals) was compared with the results in ii) area (forest animals without horses). Very significant differences in the understory and undergrowth (above 0,5 m) layer vegetation communities structure between both areas and type of stands were found. The results suggest that the presence of the Polish horse substantially changed the species composition and increased the species diversity of the ground layer and shrub layer both on coniferous forest and in the deciduous forest habitats. The height of the shrub layer trees was lower by 30% in the area with the Polish horse.