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Go to:49. Management Strategies for Allegheny Hardwood Forests

Go to:51. Maintenance of Growth and Yield Measurement Plots

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Catalog of Long Term Research Conducted by the Northeastern Research Station

Catalog #50

Effect of Deer Population Levels on Natural Regeneration of Allegheny Hardwoods
1) To determine the average deer density which will allow natural regeneration of desirable Allegheny hardwood timber species at adequate stocking levels in stands managed under even-age silviculture.
2) To determine the effects of known herd-size on browse-use over a range of regeneration conditions in Allegheny Plateau cherry-maple stands. 
3) To determine if deer density impacts songbird, small mammal, shrub and herb communities.
Warren, McKean, Forest, Elk, and Potter counties in the Allegheny Plateau of Northwestern Pennsylvania. Hardwood stands in the large pole-small sawtimber size class, managed on a 100-year rotation with a 10-year cutting cycle. The 4 sites (replications) represent the following 4 levels of regeneration potential: 
a) poor - less than 30% of the sample quadrats adequately stocked with desirable tree seedlings. 
b) below average - between 30% and 50% of the sample quadrats adequately stocked with desirable tree seedlings. 
c) above average - between 50% and 70% of the sample quadrats adequately stocked with desirable tree seedlings. 
d) good - greater than 70% of the sample quadrats adequately stocked with desirable tree seedlings. 
Desirable commercial woody species typical of Allegheny hardwoods are sugar maple, red maple, yellow-poplar, white ash, black cherry, and cucumber. Overstory composition may also include other commercial species such as beech, eastern hemlock, white pine, birch, basswood, aspen, butternut, and in transition stands, oak and hickory. Undesirable woody seedlings are judged on the basis of their value as deer forage, of their commercial value, and of their competitive influence on higher value species. The two most prominent species are beech and striped maple. At least one site contains an understory dense with plants that interfere with desirable regeneration such as ferns, grasses, and sedges.
Randomized block design with stratified, systematic sampling from a random start. 4 160-acre fenced blocks, each cross-fenced to form 4 plots; 1 of 64 acres and 3 of 32 acres are established and replicated at 4 separate locations across 5 counties on northwestern PA's Allegheny Plateau. 8 deer were introduced into each block at a rate of 1 deer per 64 acres, and 1, 2, and 4 deer in the 3 32-acre plots, thus simulating 10, 20, 40, and 80 deer per square mile.

Each fenced plot contains a mixture of clear-cut, thinned and uncut stands along with selected openings resulting from haul roads and log-landings. The 4 blocks range in regeneration potential (for desirables) from poor (30% regeneration stocking) to excellent (70% regeneration stocking). Seedling responses under the various deer densities were compared using permanently marked fenced 6' radius sample plots measured just before deer introduction, during the 5th year, and during the 10th year after establishment.

In the 11th year of study, evaluation of response of other communities to deer density was added. Songbirds were censured at fixed census locations within each silvicultural treatment within each deer density. Small mammals were censured by live-trapping on 50-trap grids within each of the deer density x structural treatments. Herbs and shrubs were tallied by estimating percent ground cover, by species in May-June, within 30 milacre plots, located randomly within each deer density x silvicultural treatment.

The following is representative of the acreages treated silviculturally for each plot size: 
Plot Size
64 acres
32 acres
6.4 acre
3.2 acre
19.2 acre
9.6 acre
3.2 acre
1.6 acre
35.2 acre
17.6 acre

Cuttings represent the proportions expected under a 100-year rotation under even-age sustained yield timber management.

The following is representative of the acreages treated with deer densities per plot: 

Plot Size
No. of Deer
Equiv. Deer/Square Mile
Actual Density
64 acres
32 acres
32 acres
32 acres
Seedling counts made during tallies of regeneration plots (0.001 acre each) were by species and height classes: <0.1', <0.5' to 1', <1', 1' to 3', 3' to 5', <5'. Herbaceous cover was measured in only the regeneration plots. Not all regeneration plots were measured at every tally and height classes varied.
Regeneration plots: 1979 to 1985 annually, 1989.
Independent: soil depth to mottling, parent rock, slope (%), aspect (azimuth from north), and stand conditions.
Dependent: regeneration stocking per acre in clearcuts, thinnings, and uncut stands; regeneration stocking of desirable noncommercial browse species. species richness and abundance of songbirds, small mammals, herbs and shrubs.
Plots were located away from fence lines or open trails to avoid exposing features to abnormal use by the study animals and potential erroneous data. Data-entry into computer was 100% cross checked with field sheets.
Raw data by plot reside on DG and tally sheets are kept with written instructions and detailed maps to each stand. Annually, the raw data are transformed using the REGEN1 program in DG Info. System. Summarized data by plot and by stand reside in a DG-based program that can output to ASCII text files.
Studies of Ecosystem Processes
Study plan. 1979 
Environmental Assessment report. 1979. Coleman Holt. 
Establishment report. 1982. David Marquis. 
Progress reports. 1983, 1984, 1986. Nancy Tilghman. 
The above are office reports of U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station, Warren, PA.

deCalesta, D.S.; Witmer, G.W. 1990. Drive line census for deer within fenced enclosures. Res. Paper NE-643. Radnor, PA: U.S. Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, Northeastern Forest Experiment Station. 4 p.

deCalesta, D.S. 1991. Modification of the standard deer pellet group technique. Pennsylvania Acad. Sci. 64: 187.

deCalesta, D.S. 1992. Impact of deer on species diversity of Allegheny hardwood stands. In: Proceedings, Northeastern Weed SCI Soc. Abstract. 46: 135.

Witmer, G.W.; deCalesta, D.S. 1992. The need and difficulty of bringing the Pennsylvania deer herd under control. In: Proceedings, fifth eastern wildl. damage control. conference. 1991. Ithaca, NY. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Cooperative Extension. 5: 130-137.

Jones, S.B., deCalesta, D.S.; Chunko, S.E. 1993. Whitetails are changing our woodlands. Amer. Forests. 99: 20-26.

deCalesta, D.S. 1994. Deer and diversity in Allegheny hardwood Forests: managing an unlikely challenge. Landscape and Urban Planning 28: 47-53.

deCalesta, D.S. 1994. Impact of White-Tailed deer on songbirds within managed forests in Pennsylvania. J. Wildl. Manage. 58: 711-718.

deCalesta, D.S., and S.L. Stout. 1997. Relative deer density and sustainability: a conceptual framework for integrating deer management with ecosystem management. Wild. Soc. Bull. In Press.

deCalesta, D.S. 1997. Deer Density and ecosystems management. pages 267-279. In: McShea, W.J., ed. The science of overabundance: the ecology of unmanaged deer populations. Smithsonian Inst. Press. 402 pp.

Susan Stout, USDA, Forest Service, P.O. Box 267, Irvine, PA. 16329. (814) 563-1040
PA. Game Commission; PA. Dept. of Environ.; Resour.; PA. Bureau of Forestry; Allegheny National Forest; PA. State Univ.; and various local forest industries and petroleum industries. 



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