Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

White-tailed deer impact on the vegetation dynamics of a northern hardwood forest


Stephen B. Horsley
David S. deCalesta
David S. deCalesta



Publication type:

Miscellaneous Publication

Primary Station(s):

Northern Research Station


Ecological Applications. 13(1): 98-118.


Considerable controversy has arisen over the management of white-tailed deer in eastern landscapes where there is evidence of damage to forest vegetation, crops, and wildlife habitat attributable to deer. We examined the impact of 4, 8, 15, and 25 deer/km2 on herbaceous layer abundance and tree seedling density, height development, species composition, and diversity for 10 yr in a repeated-measures randomized-complete-block experiment at four replicate cherry-maple forest sites in northwester Pennsylvania, USA. At each 65-ha site, deer were placed in 13- or 26-ha fenced enclosures in which the landscape composition and forage production of a forest managed on a 100-yr rotation was simulated by clear-cutting 10% of each area and thinning 30%. Vegetation was sampled 0-1, 3, 5, and 10 yr after treatment (YAT). We analyzed vegetative treatment responses separately in each silvicultural treatment.


Horsley, Stephen B.; Stout, Susan L.; deCalesta, David S. 2003. White-tailed deer impact on the vegetation dynamics of a northern hardwood forest. Ecological Applications. 13(1): 98-118.

Publication Notes

  • 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.