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    We surveyed the vegetation growing on the surface of tall boulders (>1.5 m), on the surface of short boulders (<0.5 m) and in areas adjacent to these boulders on the soil surface in the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania. Our purpose was to test the hypothesis that tall boulders serve as refugia from deer browsing for both woody plant species as well as understory herbs. We conducted our surveys during spring when many of these herbs reproduce sexually and their inflorescences are vulnerable to browsing. Deer cannot gain access and browse on these tall boulders, whereas they can easily browse plant species on shorter boulders and on the forest floor. We predicted that the tall boulders would have the highest plant diversity, woody species density and the density of reproductive individuals of understory herbs.

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    Comisky, Lauren; Royo, Alejandro A.; Carson, Walter P. 2005. Deer browsing creates rock refugia gardens on large boulders in the Allegheny National Forest, Pennsylvania

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