You are here: Home
/ Publication Information
Title: Over-browsing in Pennsylvania creates a depauperate forest dominated by an understory tree: results from a 60-year-old deer exclosure
Author: Kain, Morgan; Battaglia, Loretta; Royo, Alejandro; Carson, Walter P.
Source: Journal of the Torrey Biological Society. 138(3): 322-326.
Publication Series: Journal/Magazine Article (JRNL)
Description: We evaluated the impact of long-term over-browsing by white-tailed deer on the diversity and density of trees in a forest in the Allegheny High Plateau region of central Pennsylvania.We compared tree diversity and density inside a 60 year-old deer exclosure to an adjacent reference site. Browsing caused a 55-100% decline in density of four tree species (Prunus serotina, Acer saccharum, Betula lenta, Cornus alternifolia) and created a forest dominated (>70% of all stems) by Acer pensylvanicum, an understory tree that is known to be highly browse-tolerant. The total density of trees that are capable of ascending into the canopy (i.e., non subcanopy tree species) declined by 85%. Browsing caused a significant decline in both mean species richness and Shannon diversity and created communities that contrasted significantly in tree species composition (ANOSIM, R = 0.8105, P < 0.0001). Our results suggest that long-term over-browsing can create low density, depauperate communities where dominance is concentrated in only a few browse-resistant species (Acer pensylvanicum and Fagus grandifolia; 82% of all individuals vs. 37% inside the exclosure).We suggest that this may lead to novel forest dynamics in the event of a large canopy disturbance because these two species were never co-dominant in this region and the beech saplings (typically root sprouts) will likely succumb to future bouts of beech bark disease. Our results combined with those of many other studies call for the long-term reduction in the size of the deer herd throughout this region.
Keywords: Acer pensylvanicum, Cornus alternifolia, Fagus grandfolia, over browsing, white-tailed deer
- We recommend that you also print this page and attach it to the printout of the article, to retain the full citation information.
- This article was written and prepared by U.S. Government employees on official time, and is therefore in the public domain.
- This publication may be available in hard copy. Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat. During the capture process some typographical errors may occur. Please contact Sharon Hobrla, firstname.lastname@example.org if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
XML: View XML
Kain, Morgan; Battaglia, Loretta; Royo, Alejandro; Carson,Walter P. 2011. Over-browsing in Pennsylvania creates a depauperate forest dominated by an understory tree: results from a 60-year-old deer exclosure. Journal of the Torrey Biological Society. 138(3): 322-326.
Get the latest version of the Adobe Acrobat reader or Acrobat Reader for Windows with Search and Accessibility