White-tailed deer impact on the vegetation dynamics of a northern hardwood forest
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Ecological Applications. 13(1): 98-118.
Considerable controversy has arisen over the management of white-tailed deer in eastern landscapes where there is evidence of damage to forest vegetation, crops, and wildlife habitat attributable to deer. We examined the impact of 4, 8, 15, and 25 deer/km2 on herbaceous layer abundance and tree seedling density, height development, species composition, and diversity for 10 yr in a repeated-measures randomized-complete-block experiment at four replicate cherry-maple forest sites in northwester Pennsylvania, USA. At each 65-ha site, deer were placed in 13- or 26-ha fenced enclosures in which the landscape composition and forage production of a forest managed on a 100-yr rotation was simulated by clear-cutting 10% of each area and thinning 30%. Vegetation was sampled 0-1, 3, 5, and 10 yr after treatment (YAT). We analyzed vegetative treatment responses separately in each silvicultural treatment.
Keywordsherbivory; management; northern hardwood forest; plant-herbivore interactions; plant-plant interference; seedling density; seedling height; species diversity; succession; ungulate; vegetation trajectory; white-tailed deer
Horsley, Stephen B.; Stout, Susan L.; deCalesta, David S. 2003. White-tailed deer impact on the vegetation dynamics of a northern hardwood forest. Ecological Applications. 13(1): 98-118.