Bigtooth maple (Acer grandidentatum Aceraceae) is found in scattered relict populations across the southern Intermountain West of North America. The quadrat procedure was used to examine the woody plant population in a mesic site (canyon bottom near stream), a thirty-year-old deer exclosure (slightly upslope), and a xeric site (more upslope with shallower soil) at Lost Maples State Natural Area in Central Texas. All woody plants were identified, categorized as trees, saplings, or seedlings, and counted. The circumference of trees was measured. Bigtooth maple had the highest density of all seedling species, with its highest density at the mesic site and lowest in the exclosure. Both sapling and tree densities were highest in the exclosure. The mesic site did not contain bigtooth maple trees. Bigtooth maple total basal area was higher in the exclosure than at the xeric site, which had larger but fewer trees. Additionally, fifteen first-year seedlings were planted inside the exclosure and at the xeric site. One-year mortality was 100% at the xeric site and 67% in the exclosure. The presence of large vertebrate herbivores seems to affect significantly the survival and density of juvenile bigtooth maple, suggesting that browsing is a primary cause of recruitment failure in Central Texas relict populations.
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Vol. 36 • No. 2