Graduate Research and Discovery Symposium (GRADS)

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White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) is an important game species and the largest native herbivore in South Carolina. Intense deer herbivory can result in browse lines, reduced regeneration of tree species, and the extirpation of plant 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 communities in the Southeast. This study measures impacts of deer herbivory 13 years after clearcutting upland hardwood stands in the Clemson Experimental Forest by comparing forest and plant communities inside and outside exclosures. An initial study conducted in 2005, 1 year after the clearcut, concluded that deer density had no impact on these communities. To determine the long-term impacts of herbivory, the plots were resurveyed 13 years later. Regeneration of seedling, sapling and overstory oaks was unimpacted by deer herbivory (p=.61, p=.58, p=.45). In fact, the plots outside the exclosures had a higher population of 4in DBH oaks compared to the plots inside enclosures (p=0.09). There was significantly higher plant species richness outside the exclosures compared to inside (p=0.08). Shannon’s diversity index was not statistically different between treatments (p>0.1). Both treatments had a similar number of invasive species (p=0.81). Exclosures had 5,000 more Japanese honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) per acre compared to outside the exclosure. There was significantly higher vine regeneration inside the exclosures (p