Skip to Main Content
A regional assessment of white-tailed deer effects on plant invasionAuthor(s): Kristine M Averill; David A Mortensen; Erica A H Smithwick; Susan Kalisz; William J McShea; Norman A Bourg; John D Parker; Alejandro A Royo; Marc D Abrams; David K Apsley; Bernd Blossey; Douglas H Boucher; Kai L Caraher; Antonio DiTommaso; Sarah E Johnson; Robert Masson; Victoria A. Nuzzo
Source: AoB PLANTS. 10(1). 22 p.
Publication Series: Scientific Journal (JRNL)
Station: Northern Research Station
Download Publication (645.0 KB)
DescriptionHerbivores can profoundly influence plant species assembly, including plant invasion, and resulting community composition. Population increases of native herbivores, e.g. white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus), combined with burgeoning plant invasions raise concerns for native plant diversity and forest regeneration. While individual researchers typically test for the impact of deer on plant invasion at a few sites, the overarching influence of deer on plant invasion across regional scales is unclear. We tested the effects of deer on the abundance and diversity of introduced and native herbaceous and woody plants across 23 white-tailed deer research sites distributed across the east-central and north-eastern USA and representing a wide range of deer densities and invasive plant abundance and identity. Deer access/exclusion or deer population density did not affect introduced plant richness or community-level abundance. Native and total plant species richness, abundance (cover and stem density) and Shannon diversity were lower in deer-access vs. deer-exclusion plots. Among deer-access plots, native species richness, native and total cover, and Shannon diversity (cover) declined as deer density increased. Deer access increased the proportion of introduced species cover (but not of species richness or stem density). As deer density increased, the proportion of introduced species richness, cover and stem density all increased. Because absolute abundance of introduced plants was unaffected by deer, the increase in proportion of introduced plant abundance is likely an indirect effect of deer reducing native cover. Indicator species analysis revealed that deer access favoured three introduced plant species, including Alliaria petiolata and Microstegium vimineum, as well as four native plant species. In contrast, deer exclusion favoured three introduced plant species, including Lonicera japonica and Rosa multiflora, and 15 native plant species. Overall, native deer reduced community diversity, lowering native plant richness and abundance, and benefited certain invasive plants, suggesting pervasive impacts of this keystone herbivore on plant community composition and ecosystem services in native forests across broad swathes of the eastern USA.
- Check the Northern Research Station web site to request a printed copy of this publication.
- Our on-line publications are scanned and captured using Adobe Acrobat.
- During the capture process some typographical errors may occur.
- Please contact Sharon Hobrla, email@example.com if you notice any errors which make this publication unusable.
- 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.
CitationAverill, Kristine M; Mortensen, David A; Smithwick, Erica A H; Kalisz, Susan; McShea, William J; Bourg, Norman A; Parker, John D; Royo, Alejandro A; Abrams, Marc D; Apsley, David K; Blossey, Bernd; Boucher, Douglas H; Caraher, Kai L; DiTommaso, Antonio; Johnson, Sarah E; Masson, Robert; Nuzzo, Victoria A. 2017. A regional assessment of white-tailed deer effects on plant invasion. AoB PLANTS. 10(1). 22 p. 10.1093/aobpla/plx047.
KeywordsBiological invasions, exotic plants, herbivore selectivity, herbivory, introduced plants, Odocoileus virginianus, palatability, plant invasion, regional pooled analysis
- Potential impacts of year-round sampling on monitoring presence- absence of invasive flora in the southern United States
- The extent of selected nonnative invasive plants on southern forest lands
- Oak SILVAH in Ohio at the landscape scale
XML: View XML