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Abstract Detail

Conservation Biology of Eastern Tallgrass Prairie: Integrating Issues of Management and Restoration for the 21st Century

Anderson, Roger [1].

Influence of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) browsing on tallgrass prairie.

In North America, the bison was the large mammalian herbivore that had the greatest influence on the prairies of North America in pre-Columbian times, although its abundance may have been markedly lower in the eastern tallgrass prairie than it was in the mid- and shortgrass prairies. However, at the present time white-tailed deer have replaced the bison as the large herbivore that has the largest influence on remnant and restored tallgrass prairies. The work that my students and I have carried out on the influence of deer browsing on prairie indicate that, unlike the bison, white-tailed deer browsed little on grasses or sedges during late spring and summer and selectively browsed forbs and consumed 3.5 to 18.9% of the forb stems. Deer browsing influenced the diversity of forbs but diversity was lower at high levels of deer browsing or in the absence of deer browsing than it was at an intermediate level of browsing intensity. Nevertheless, an increase in deer browsing at any level decreased floristic quality of forbs, because deer tended to prefer forbs associated with high quality remnants more than those associated with disturbed and low quality prairies. These results suggest that, with respect to deer browsing, there is a trade off between maximizing diversity of forbs and maintaining their floristic quality. Deer browsing also has an influence on flowering of prairie forbs. Species richness of flowering stems of forbs was higher on areas protected from deer browsing than on unprotected areas. Similarly, counts of flowering stems was greater on protected plots, except in years when sites were burned, due to large increases in flowering stems of Silphium integrifolium and Parthenium integrifolium following burning, especially on the unprotected area.

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1 - Illinois State University, Department of Biological Sciences, Campus Box 4120, Normal, Illinois, 61790-4120, USA

white-tailed deer
Tallgrass prairie
floristic quality.

Presentation Type: Symposium or Colloquium Presentation
Session: SY18
Location: Williford B/Hilton
Date: Wednesday, July 11th, 2007
Time: 11:30 AM
Number: SY18007
Abstract ID:2010

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