Effects of white-tailed deer herbivory on upland hardwood plant communities in the Piedmont of South Carolina
White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is an important game species and the largest native herbivore in South Carolina. Deer populations have rapidly rebounded in the last 50 years resulting in browse lines, reduced regeneration of overstory tree species, and in some circumstances, extirpation of preferred deer browse species. The impact of white-tailed deer has been studied throughout much of its northern range, but there has been little long-term research into the impact of deer on forests and plant communities in the Southeast. This study measures impacts of deer herbivory 13 years after clearcutting six upland hardwood stands in the Clemson Experimental Forest by comparing plant communities inside and outside exclosures. An initial study conducted 1 year after the clearcut concluded that deer herbivory had no impact on the plant communities. To determine the long-term impacts of herbivory, the plots were surveyed 13 years later. The survey determined that there was significantly greater plant species richness outside the exclosures compared to inside (pp>0.1). Both treatments had a similar number of invasive species (p>0.1). There was significantly higher vine regeneration inside the exclosures (pLonicera japonica) was reduced outside of the exclosures (p 10cm DBH compared to the plots inside exclosures (p
Land-Grant Press by Clemson Extension
wildlife biologists, foresters, landowners
Norman CN, Thrift J, Guynn ST, Guynn, Jr DC, Hagan D. Effects of Deer Herbivory on Hardwood Forests in the Piedmont of South Carolina. Clemson (SC): Clemson Cooperative Extension, Land-Grant Press by Clemson Extension; 2020 Nov. LGP 1099. http://lgpress.clemson.edu/publication/effects-of-deer-herbivory-on-hardwood-forests-in-the-piedmont-of-south-carolina/.