We evaluated the impact of chronic deer over browsing on the diversity and abundance of understory forbs and shrubs within a forest stand in the Allegheny High Plateau Region of Pennsylvania by comparing vegetation inside a 60-year-old exclosure to vegetation within an adjacent reference site. This is the oldest known exclosure in the Eastern Deciduous Forest. Browsing caused the formation of an extremely low diversity herbaceous understory dominated by a single fern species, caused the local extirpation of shrubs, and drove forbs to extremely low abundance (< 0.2% cover m−2 vs. 43% inside the exclosure). Our results confirm previous findings that demonstrate that browsing has caused 60–80% declines in herb and shrub richness regionally. Because many of these species have low dispersal and reproductive rates, we predict long-term legacy effects if deer numbers are ever reduced. Our results combined with other studies provide information on shrub and herb abundance in the absence of browsing that may serve as a baseline to compare potential community recovery in the future.
You have requested a machine translation of selected content from our databases. This functionality is provided solely for your convenience and is in no way intended to replace human translation. Neither BioOne nor the owners and publishers of the content make, and they explicitly disclaim, any express or implied representations or warranties of any kind, including, without limitation, representations and warranties as to the functionality of the translation feature or the accuracy or completeness of the translations.
Translations are not retained in our system. Your use of this feature and the translations is subject to all use restrictions contained in the Terms and Conditions of Use of the BioOne website.