Autumn herbivory by white-tailed deer and nutrient loss in planted seedlings

C. M. Stewart, Timothy R. Van Deelen, J. O. Dawson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


White-tailed deer in the agricultural Midwest are limited during fall and winter to areas of combined food and cover, usually remnant forests in a matrix of agriculture. During this period, tree seedlings may be at higher risk to herbivory because herbaceous and agricultural foods are unavailable and deer are concentrated in forest patches. We monitored planted swamp white oak seedlings to examine how autumnal herbivory affected nutrient loss and survival. Herbivory during this season resulted in significant losses of nitrogen and phosphorous stored within the stem, with nitrogen stores significantly reduced throughout the seedling's tissues. Nutrient loss due to deer herbivory has the potential to prevent seedlings from reaching reproductive maturity, altering future successional paths and affecting forest composition. To alleviate herbivory pressure, forested refuges may benefit from hunting or sharpshooting, with treatments coinciding with peak crop harvest activity.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)342-349
Number of pages8
JournalAmerican Midland Naturalist
Issue number2
StatePublished - Oct 2008


  • INHS

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics


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