Selective browsing by Odocoileus virginianus (White-tailed Deer) has shifted plant communities in the Northeast, but the effects of seed dispersal by deer on forest seed banks are unknown. We used data from deer exclosures in hunted and unhunted properties in southeastern New York to determine whether deer browsing and different deer management histories have altered composition and/or abundance of forest saplings and seed banks. Results indicate that deer did not alter species richness, abundance, or composition in seed banks in either hunted or unhunted areas. Deer did, however, decrease sapling density and richness at the unhunted site but not at the hunted site. We conclude that impacts of unmanaged deer populations are greater on sapling recruitment than on seed banks.
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Vol. 19 • No. 1