Importance to Livestock and Wildlife
Redosier dogwood provides important food and cover for many mammals and birds . Moose, elk, deer, bighorn sheep, mountain goats, beavers, and rabbits commonly browse redosier dogwood stems [23,26,27,235,313]. Bears, small mammals, and birds consume redosier dogwood fruits and seeds [138,313]. Livestock also utilize redosier dogwood [100,137]. In Montana, redosier dogwood is referred to as an "ice cream" plant for wildlife and livestock . New shoot growth is an important food source, especially for moose and deer . Twigs have also been referred to as preferred, extremely important, and highly valuable winter browse [197,235,312]. Fruits are consumed in the summer and fall [164,247]. A gardening guide reports that redosier dogwood fruits are eaten by 47 different bird species . Redosier dogwood shrubs are also important nesting habitat and summer cover [164,247].
Use of red-osier dogwood for food, cover, and/or nesting by a variety of wildlife and livestock species is discussed in the reviewed literature (as of 2012). The discussion that follows does not likely capture the true variety and extent of redosier dogwood use by wildlife and livestock.
Ungulates: Nearly throughout its range, redosier dogwood is browsed by a variety of ungulates. Redosier dogwood was considered highly important browse for mountain goats, elk, and moose in British Columbia (review by ). In the Glacier Park area of northwestern Montana, redosier dogwood received high levels of use by moose and elk in the winter and by white-tailed deer in winter and summer [130,274]. On a 2-year-old burned site in the boreal forest region northwest of Ely, Minnesota, moose browsed redosier dogwood in October and white-tailed deer browsed it in May and April .
Moose: Redosier dogwood has been reported as an important food for moose throughout much of the temperate North American region. Winter use was most commonly reported but fall, spring, and summer use also occurred [74,222,297].
In the western United States, moose utilization of redosier dogwood can be extensive. In an area of southwestern Montana receiving concentrated moose use in the winter, "virtually all" of the current year's growth of redosier dogwood was removed in each of 4 years of observations . On the north slope of the Gallatin Range, redosier dogwood was heavily browsed by moose in winter and remained important browse into the spring . In logged areas of the Yaak River drainage, moose frequently browsed redosier dogwood . In Fremont County, Idaho, moose fed on redosier dogwood. Moose diets did not contain a great abundance of redosier dogwood but only because of its sparse distribution in the study area . In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, use of redosier dogwood by moose was so extensive that the researcher suggested it may be eliminated from the winter range. Redosier dogwood stems were "virtually cleaned out long before the winter got underway" . In another study of the Jackson Hole area, moose use of redosier dogwood was sometimes as much as 15% of the total feeding observations. On winter range, 40% to 58% of redosier dogwood shrubs were severely browsed between 1964 and 1966 . In the Snowy Range of Wyoming, however, redosier dogwood was seldom recovered from moose feces although it occurred within the quaking aspen stands interspersed in the study area's predominantly coniferous forests .
Redosier dogwood was important moose browse in Canada and the Great Lakes region. Contents of moose rumen samples collected from southeastern Manitoba in early winter indicated heavy use of redosier dogwood, which occurred in 82.6% of all rumens. Among the 25 taxa identified in the rumen samples, redosier dogwood was considered most important, and field observations revealed that redosier dogwood shrubs were heavily browsed . In northern Ontario, an average of 53% of redosier dogwood stems was browsed by moose in studies between 1955 and 1970 . In clearcut boreal forest sites in the northwestern part of the province, redosier dogwood was 1 of the 4 most heavily browsed species and 1 of just 2 preferred species in the winter . In the northeastern part of Ontario, redosier dogwood was important browse for cow-calf moose on sites logged 1 to 40 years earlier. Of the available redosier dogwood stems, more than half (56.6%) were removed in early winter and a little less than half (46.5%) were removed in late winter . On Isle Royale, Michigan, redosier dogwood has been described as a "favorite" summer and a "relished" winter moose food. Redosier dogwood plants that are not heavily browsed were rare, and stunted growth forms were common because of heavy browsing . In other studies of moose on Isle Royale, redosier dogwood made up a high of 25.6% and a low of 5.3% of moose diets ; use typically exceeded availability .
Elk: Use of redosier dogwood by elk was reported in Idaho, Montana, Manitoba, and Ontario [80,108,239,256]. On the Selway Game Preserve in Idaho County, redosier dogwood was considered highly palatable to elk, but because of its rarity in the study area, relative importance in elk diets was low . Along the Flathead River in western Montana, elk utilized redosier dogwood heavily in the winter. It was one of the shrub species that was still accessible in deep snow on the 418,000-acre (169,000 ha) winter range, which supported about 2,600 elk . Elk browsed redosier dogwood significantly more than other available browse (P<0.05) when all transects were combined for the study area in Riding Mountain National Park, Manitoba . In mixed-forest habitats in east-central Ontario, a reintroduced elk population selected dogwood (redosier dogwood and roundleaf dogwood) more than expected based on availability .
Deer: Mule deer and white-tailed deer use of redosier dogwood can be extensive in the summer and winter. A review indicates moderate use of redosier dogwood by mule deer in the fall and winter and heavy use in the summer . In Banff and Jasper National Parks in Alberta, redosier dogwood was preferred winter deer browse . In captive feeding trials, redosier dogwood was important browse for mule deer browse through the summer and was consumed more in August and September than in June and July. Overall, redosier dogwood was the 2nd most preferred browse species in about 30 total browse species. Browse for the feeding trials was collected near Logan, Utah .
Redosier dogwood is considered important white-tailed deer browse from Montana to Michigan and Quebec. In the Missouri River breaks area of Montana, white-tailed deer ate redosier dogwood most often in summer, little in fall, and not at all in spring or winter . In the Sun River Area of west-central Montana, redosier dogwood received 18% of the instances of browse use by white-tailed deer along rivers and in seep habitats . However, in coniferous forests in the Upper Swan Valley, redosier dogwood made up a small portion of winter white-tailed deer diets (high of 0.3% in January) . When availability and use of browse species were compared in the Black Hills of South Dakota, redosier dogwood ranked as highly palatable to white-tailed deer from January to March and July to September . At 3 sites in northeastern Minnesota, use of redosier dogwood exceeded its availability in early winter and approximated its availability in late winter . In a 2-year study in Louis and Lake counties in southeastern Minnesota, redosier dogwood was utilized "intensively" in heavily populated winter range and was selected more than expected based on availability in the early summer . At the Mud Lake National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota, redosier dogwood was considered the most highly preferred winter browse species by white-tailed deer, and its use increased as winter progressed . In the Rigaud white-tailed deer yard in southwestern Quebec, winter use of redosier dogwood ranged from 61% to 78% over 3 years. At the end of March, redosier dogwood was avoided . In Wilderness State Park, Michigan, white-tailed deer browsed redosier dogwood heavily in the winter .
Bighorn sheep: In Canadian National Parks, redosier dogwood was utilized heavily in midsummer by bighorn sheep .
Other mammals: Redosier dogwood fruits and stems are an important food source for bears and several small mammals.
Bears: Black bears from California to Newfoundland and grizzly bears eat redosier dogwood fruits. A review of grizzly bear food items from the northern Rocky Mountains and southern British Columbia ranked redosier dogwood fruits as moderately used food items . In the Kimsquit River Valley, coastal British Columbia, scat analyses and observations from feeding sites indicated that redosier dogwood berries were eaten by grizzly bears but were not 1 of the 6 food items making up the bulk of diets . In northwestern Montana, thinleaf huckleberry is a preferred late summer-early fall food for grizzly bears. On the North Fork of the Flathead River, redosier dogwood was commonly consumed as an alternative food when huckleberry crops failed . From grizzly and black bear scat collected in Glacier National Park, the frequency and volume of redosier dogwood was 1.12% and 0.54%, respectively . In another study in northwestern Montana, grizzly bear use of redosier dogwood was reported as 5.7% (Husby and others 1977 cited in ). Redosier dogwood fruits were recovered from black bear scat collected in Sequoia National Park, California. From a total of 555 scat collections, the frequency and volume of redosier dogwood averaged 2% and 0.7%, respectively. Maximum frequency and volume came from scat collected between 20 July to 16 August was 11% and 3.2%, respectively. Redosier dogwood did not occur in scat collected earlier than 20 July . In north-central Minnesota, redosier dogwood was "regularly" found in black bear scat . Frequency of redosier dogwood in black bear scat collected in late summer from Gaspésie Park, eastern Quebec, was 33% . In Gros Morne National Park, Newfoundland, redosier dogwood was not recovered from bear stomachs or scat collected in spring or early summer, but ranged from 0% to 15.6% of the contents in the late summer-fall season after 3 years of collections .
Small mammals: A variety of small mammals feed on redosier dogwood stems and fruits. Redosier dogwood was listed among plants most commonly taken by beavers in Nevada (Scheffer 1941 cited in ), and in North Dakota it was considered a major winter food source for beavers (Hammond 1943 cited in ). In north-central Minnesota, snowshoe hares browsed more than 20% of available redosier dogwood stems , and near Syracuse, New York, cottontail rabbits fed extensively on small branches and shoots of redosier dogwood in the winter . Redosier dogwood was among the materials found in bushy-tailed woodrat food caches in California (review by ). Redosier dogwood fruits and seeds were found in 1 of 71 least chipmunk stomachs and 1 of 30 least chipmunk cheek pouches from captures made in August and September in northern Minnesota. In both the stomach and cheek pouches, redosier dogwood made up 100% of the contents . In feeding experiments, caged meadow jumping mice fed heavily on redosier dogwood fruits .
Birds: Many bird species feed on and disperse redosier dogwood fruits and seeds. In New England, alone, redosier dogwood occurred in the diets of 95 bird species (review by ). Individual studies highlight that redosier dogwood fruits were consumed by American crows , American robins (personal observation in ), catbirds , eastern bluebirds, pheasants , and ruffed grouse . Eastern bluebirds using nest boxes in Macomb County, Michigan, fed redosier dogwood fruits to nestlings but only in the last week of the nestling period (late June). When fed to nestlings, redosier dogwood fruits made up a high of 37% of nestling diets . On the University of Idaho Experimental Forest in Latah County, utilization of redosier dogwood seeds exceeded availability as determined by scat collected in the late summer and fall .
Redosier dogwood is also utilized by birds for nesting and cover. The frequency of mountain quail sightings was 7.5% in red alder/redosier dogwood habitat types in the Hell's Canyon National Recreation Area, which was more than expected if sightings were randomly distributed among available habitat types. Red alder/redosier dogwood habitats were used more in the spring and summer than in the fall and winter . In southeastern Michigan, 2.5% of all identified catbird nests were in redosier dogwood shrubs . At High Island, Michigan, redosier dogwood was common at woodcock roosting sites . Redosier dogwood was considered important cover for ruffed grouse based on a review of revegetation and reclamation guides by Hardy ().
Amphibians: When reproduction of northern leopard frogs was evaluated in floodplain habitats along the Richelieu River in Quebec, researchers found that the reed canarygrass/redosier dogwood habitat type was utilized most for egg deposition. In the reed canarygrass/redosier dogwood habitat type there were 140 egg masses, and in the next most heavily utilized habitat type, purple loosestrife/river bulrush (Lythrum salicaria/Schoenoplectus fluviatilis), there were 28 egg masses .
Livestock: While some indicate that all classes of livestock avoid redosier dogwood unless more preferred foods are unavailable , others suggest that redosier dogwood is an "ice cream" plant for livestock and wildlife . During a 2-year study on a grazing allotment in the southern Blue Mountains of Oregon, cattle concentrated in the riparian zone early in the grazing season and utilized redosier dogwood considerably in one year but not the next .
Palatability and nutritional value: General descriptions of redosier dogwood's palatability are highly variable. Merigliano  suggests that redosier dogwood is palatable at all growth stages. While Sampson and Jespersen  indicate that young redosier dogwood sprouts are consumed to some degree but that stems are only browsed close to the ground when more palatable foods are unavailable. General palatability of redosier dogwood was rated as fair to poor for goats and deer, poor for sheep, and poor to useless for cattle in California . The value of redosier dogwood was considered low for cattle, horses, and elk in Nevada and eastern California , but in Colorado and Wyoming, redosier dogwood palatability was rated as fair in the fall . The above section on the Importance of redosier dogwood to Wildlife and Livestock should be considered in conjunction with general palatability ratings to appreciate the potential importance of redosier dogwood as wildlife and livestock browse.
Several studies provided information on the nutritional content of redosier dogwood stems and fruits from various locations and at different seasons. In the Quenel region of British Columbia, redosier dogwood ranked as low-quality ungulate browse from November through May. Although it was highly palatable, protein content averaged 4.8%. Researchers reported no change in protein content in forest stands of different ages . At the western boundary of Glacier National Park, Montana, crude protein averaged 5.8% and digestible dry matter averaged 41.8% in redosier dogwood stems collected in winter . In Minnesota, researchers determined the average nutrient content of redosier dogwood stems from September through June. Based on dry weight, protein content was 6.7% and crude fat was 4.2%. The lower portions of redosier dogwood branches were less nutritious than upper portions . A database has been developed for easy look-up of the nutritional content of redosier dogwood and many other browse species in the northeastern United States. For details, see .
Redosier dogwood fruits are especially high in fat content. In Alaska, the lipid content of redosier dogwood fruits was more than 25% of the dry pulp weight (Willson unpublished data cited in ). Based on comparisons with other collected fruits, redosier dogwood fruits collected in late summer from the Rainbow Creek Natural Area of southeastern Washington had high lipid levels  and moderate protein, fiber, and ash levels . In a study of fruits collected from northern Ontario, redosier dogwood fat content was 2nd highest among 17 browse species evaluated, and protein content was 6th highest . The nutritional content of fresh redosier dogwood fruits collected from central Pennsylvania averaged: 2.2% crude protein, 8.3% crude fiber, and 1.8% available protein. Nutritional values were much greater for dry than fresh fruits .
Cover value: Although cover value of redosier dogwood was not often described in detail in the reviewed literature (as of 2012), its multibranched structure and sometimes large size (see Botanical description) suggests it probably provides important cover for many wildlife species. A review reports that redosier dogwood provides dense summer and partial winter cover for birds and small mammals . In Montana, redosier dogwood is common in the understory of many coniferous and deciduous riparian vegetation types, which provide important (rated as good to excellent, usually) thermal and hiding cover for wildlife and livestock .
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