Annals of Forest Science

, 76:105 | Cite as

The cause of bark stripping of young plantation trees

  • T. C. R. WhiteEmail author
Opinion Paper


Key message

Herbivorous mammals, from small voles to large ungulates, strip and eat the bark of young plantation trees. They do this most frequently at times when sources of protein food that can support their reproduction and lactation are in short supply. Furthermore, they preferentially attack—often repeatedly—trees that have experienced some form of environmental stress, leaving neighbouring trees untouched. Such stressed trees carry higher levels of amino acids in their phloem. These facts, coupled with the similarly timed and selective harvesting of bark phloem by some Australia marsupials and Northern Hemisphere woodpeckers indicate that it is the trees’ protein-enriched phloem that the bark strippers are seeking.


Amino acids Cambium feeders Drought Environmental stress Marsupial gliders Nitrogen nutrition Woodpeckers 


Authors’ contributions

The author conceived and wrote down the manuscript

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflicts of interest

The author declares no that he has no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© INRA and Springer-Verlag France SAS, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.School of Agriculture Food and Wine, Waite Agricultural Research InstituteThe University of AdelaideGlen OsmondAustralia

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