Dense deer populations can significantly alter the composition and biodiversity of a forest and alter the rate of natural forest succession. For those plants that survive severe browsing, their growth can be significantly reduced, and trees can be deformed. These changes can compromise the quality of ecosystem services provided by the forest and reduce the economic value of the trees. In the absence of natural predators that help to maintain a deer herd that is in balance with its ecosystem, deer must be actively managed to promote the health of both the forest and herd.
Students quantify the impact of browsing by deer upon young tree seedlings. Students will learn to properly create a research plot, quantify deer browse by counting specimens within plots that have been browsed, create a species preference list based on observation, and anticipate effects of browsing on the future forest.
Possible Deer Effects on a Forest
Supplemental Information and Further Exploration: