This study examines the effect of beech bark disease (BBD) on Sus scrofa (European Wild Boar) rooting in high-elevation Beech gaps of Great Smoky Mountains National Park. In 2011, we sampled vegetative cover by stratum (canopy, shrub, herb) and European Wild Boar rooting extent in pre-existing fenced boar-exclosure plots and corresponding unfenced plots. We also used data from previous studies to compare frequencies of individual herbaceous species collected pre-BBD to those collected post-BBD. Our results indicate that mortality of Fagus grandifolia (American Beech) trees due to BBD and the consequent growth of a dense shrub-layer significantly reduced boar rooting in gaps within the Beech stands. We found that herbs were affected by both European Wild Boar and the dense shrub-cover following American Beech mortality; however, some plant species remained abundant, possibly because they were protected from detection within the shrubs.
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Vol. 15 • No. 4