Deer detrimental to natural forest development

Destroying native flora: white-tailed deer populations in Ithaca

Destroying native flora: white-tailed deer populations in Ithaca, NY

Deer cause turmoil for woodland symbiosis by preventing forests from establishing, claims recent study.

Cornell University researchers have concluded that the natural succession of native vegetation is threatened by growing deer population and extensive grazing.

For natural forest development, the sequence of grasses succeeded by shrubs and new trees, must continue unimpeded. Deer populations in the Northeast are interrupting the natural progression of forest flora, proving detrimental to the future of forest growth. Deer tend to eat the indigenous plant-life and eschew non-native species, allowing these species to flourish and permanently alter the woodland habitat.

The study, entitled “Deer Browsing Delays Succession by Altering Aboveground Vegetation and Belowground Seed Banks”, co-authored by Anurag Agrawal and Antonio DiTommaso et al., and published online by PLOS ONE, emphasises the seriousness of reduced plant biomass and less variety of native species. “We’re seeing an escalation of non-native seed and the virtual elimination of woody plant seeds”, says DiTommaso.

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