Effects of browsing pressure on the textural characteristics of Juniperus communis L. branches

Jordi Saldo*, Jordi Bartolome Filella

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review


In the Montseny Natural Park junipers scattered in the grasslands can be found. In some of these areas of the park, the breeding of small ruminants is allowed, while in others only find wildlife exists. Junipers develop differently if browsed, adopting spherical or conical morphotypes. This paper studies the mechanical characteristics of the shoots according to the sex of the bush and the branching regime to which they are subjected. 729 individual shoots were taken from male and female junipers exposed to browsing from goats and ewes and those not grazed and sampled at a different position from each bush. All the leaves were taken off the non-lignified end of the shot to be studied by a simulated bite. The strength needed to cut the apical twigs of junipers was measured using a Volodkevich jaw, which mimics the way incisors act, using a texturometer. The diameter of the branches differs according to bushes’ sex being larger for females and the individuals not exposed to predation pressure. Although the differences induced by sex were significant, differences due to grazing pressure were larger. The annual branches were thicker and longer in non-grazed junipers. This difference was not due to the partial consumption of the studied branches, as all the samples were collected in full. The continued browsing pressure leads to a survival strategy of growing, with branches tighter packaged as was evident in the analysis of the branching structure. The longer annual branches in non-grazed bushes allow for a more open structure. The force necessary to break the branch was significantly higher on females. This could be related to the fact that the females must bear the weight of the fruits. The elasticity of the annual shots was significantly higher on non-grazed junipers, a fact that could be considered as a way to tolerate herbivory
Original languageEnglish
Article number6
Pages (from-to)73-78
Number of pages6
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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