Abiotic Factors Influencing Deer Browsing in West Virginia

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Abstract:

We present a comparison of woody browse availability and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) use among clearcut interiors, skidder trail edges, and mature forest and an evaluation of the relative importance of aboitic factors in predicting browsing pressure within regenerating clearcuts in the central Appalachians of West Virginia. We sampled 810 1-m2 plots in or adjacent to nine regenerating clearcuts (8–19 ha) during the summer of 2001. Availability and use of woody browse did not differ between clearcut interior and skidder trail plots for any species observed. Plots in the adjacent mature forest had less woody browse availability and higher utilization. Overall use of available woody browse in clearcuts was >15%. Combining all woody species, elevation (wI = 0.618) and distance to mature forest (wI = 0.379) were more important than landform index, plot surface shape, aspect, and slope in predicting deer browsing pressure in regenerating clearcuts. We believe that without management activities aimed at reducing deer browsing, in many parts of this region the ability of forest managers to regenerate stands will be jeopardized and the forested ecosystem will be compromised.

Keywords: Landform index; aspect; plot surface shape; skidder trail; slope

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: D.B. Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602; 2: USDA Forest Service, Northeastern Research Station, Parsons, WV 26287; 3: Space Imaging, Thornton, CO 80241; 4: D.B. Warnell School of Forest Resources, University of Georgia, Athens, GA 30602.

Publication date: March 1, 2006

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  • Each regional journal of applied forestry focuses on research, practice, and techniques targeted to foresters and allied professionals in specific regions of the United States and Canada. The Northern Journal of Applied Forestry covers northeastern, midwestern, and boreal forests in the United States and Canada.
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