Assessment and monitoring of California vole (Microtus californicus) feeding damage to a coastal redwood (Sequoia sempervirens) restoration project
Throughout its range, coast redwood is subjected to vertebrate feeding damage at various life stages. Although some quantified information exists regarding feeding behavior by black bears and woodrats, only anecdotal evidence exists for most rodent feeding behavior, including California voles. This project adds to the base of knowledge regarding vole damage to sapling coast redwoods by describing and quantifying damage characteristics, and it establishes a protocol for field assessment and monitoring over time. It describes the distribution of vole feeding damage within a sample area, and it identifies cultural practices that potentially intensify feeding behaviors. An index is developed and provided to assay damage to saplings, in order to facilitate field assessments. A monitoring scheme is presented to evaluate sapling vigor and growth over time. Additionally, pruning of saplings is being assessed to evaluate the utility of this treatment in improving growth traits to damaged trees.