Our study examining the impact of deer herbivory on the Cumberland Plateau has been published in the journal Forests. We found that ncreasing white-tailed deer populations have led to changes in plant community composition and structure due to their herbivory patterns across the landscape. The study is the first to examine deer herbivory on the southern Cumberland Plateau and will serve as important resource for forest management and conservation in the region.
The project began as the honor thesis research of Meg Armistead (C’14 Ecology and Biodiversity). In the summer of 2012, Meg worked with Dr. Evans to measure sapling density and patterns of herbivory in 45 transects across the plateau surface on the Sewanee Domain. Meg presented her work at the 36th Annual Meeting of the Southeast Deer Study Group in Greenville, SC in 2013. In the summer of 2015, Dr. Evans led undergraduate research assistants to resurvey transects.
Dr. Kristen Cecala (Biology) and Callie Oldfield (C’15 Biology) used these data to model the drivers of deer browse across the landscape. They compared the effects of features related to topography, forest edge, and deer culls on sapling density in 2012 and 2015. They found that features related to topography were the most important in predicting deer herbivory impacts on the landscape, followed by forest edge and then deer culls.
Read the full article on the Biology news site here!
Evans, J.P., *C.A. Oldfield, K.K. Cecala, *J.K. Hiers, J.K., C. Van De Ven, *M.M. Armistead. 2016. Pattern and drivers of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) herbivory on tree saplings across a plateau landscape. Forests 7: 101.