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Abstract Detail

Interactions of White-Tailed Deer and Invasive Plants in Forests of Eastern North America

Averill, Kristine [1], Mortensen, David [2], Smithwick, Erica [3].

Influence of white-tailed deer and forest fragmentation on invasive plants.

Effects of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimm.) on plant invasion have been investigated at one or a few locations, but not at multiple sites distributed across a wide geographic region. Furthermore, deer and forest fragmentation have been linked individually to plant invasion, yet how these drivers of plant community assembly interact has not been explored. We explored these factors through the open sharing of floristic composition data collected at 24 deer exclusion sites across the northeastern US. Specifically, we quantified the effects of deer on invasive introduced plants relative to native plants in paired deer exclusion and open access plots. Additionally, deer preferences for invasive introduced and native plants were investigated. Effects of deer on invasive introduced plants were then evaluated in the context of surrounding landscape structure and composition. We found that a select group of invasive introduced plants increased in abundance when deer had open access and that deer inhibited the presence and abundance of many native plant species. Deer increased the degree of plant invasion in regional plant communities as a result of their strong negative effect on native plant abundance. Multiple-choice preference trials demonstrated that captive deer avoid consumption of many of the same invasive introduced plants that are facilitated by deer in northeastern forest understories. Selective deer avoidance appears to indirectly increase the abundance of unpalatable invaders. In contrast, deer preferred to consume several fleshy-fruited invaders. At the landscape level, forest fragmentation was positively correlated with deer density and plant invasion. Interactions among landscape features, deer presence, and native plant diversity were detected. Consideration of landscape configuration, deer presence, deer food preferences, and native flora enables a more complete understanding of the multiscalar factors contributing to plant invasion.

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1 - Cornell University, Soil and Crop Sciences, 905A Bradfield Hall, 306 Tower Rd, Ithaca, NY, 14853, United States
2 - Penn State, Plant Sciences, 422 ASI Bldg, University Park, PA, 16802, USA
3 - Penn State, Geography, 323 Walker Bldg, University Park, PA, 16802, USA

plant invasion
Plant Commmunties
herbivore preference
landscape influences.

Presentation Type: Colloquium Presentations
Session: C1, Interactions of white-tailed deer and invasive plants in forests of eastern North America
Location: Chatham Ballroom - C/Savannah International Trade and Convention Center
Date: Monday, August 1st, 2016
Time: 2:00 PM
Number: C1002
Abstract ID:134
Candidate for Awards:None

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