Effects of ungulate pressure on the development of young generation of trees is one of the most important issues in ecology and forestry. Ungulate pressure influence on the development of natural regeneration has been also reported from several national parks. Our study on the effects of ungulate browsing on the young generation of trees was conducted on more than 500 sample plots controlled during one growing season.
The overall browsing pressure ranged from 7.6% in seedlings to 20.3% in low saplings. The pressure of ungulates on the regeneration of Picea abies, the dominant species in the Tatra National Park, was by and large below 1%. Broadleaved species were browsed more frequently. The relationship between the plot altitudes and browsing intensity was statistically significant for seedlings and low saplings; at the higher altitudes, the browsing pressure was greater. There was also observed a statistically significant relationship between the type of former management and the browsing degree in seedlings; in the areas subjected to “landscape protection”, the intensity of browsing was higher when compared to strictly protected areas. Pressure exerted by ungulates on tree regeneration was very unevenly distributed, i.e. some plots were heavily browsed and many others - not browsed at all. The most affected tree species were Salix caprea and Sorbus aucuparia, although the percentage of browsed individuals rarely exceeded 50%. Other species favored by ungulates was Acer pseudoplatanus; despite the high browsing pressure, this species was present among seedlings and tall saplings, suggesting that it would be able to recruit to the tree layer. Abies alba was browsed less frequently than the deciduous trees; however, among the tall saplings it was the third most browsed species.