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Impacts of deer herbivory on vegetation in Rock Creek Park, 2001-2009

Natural Resource Report NPS/NCR/NCRO/NRTR - 2011/001
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Abstract

Starting in 2001, vegetation data have been collected annually in 16 study modules consisting of paired (1x4 m) fenced plots and unfenced control plots located in the upland forests of Rock Creek Park, Washington, D.C. Vegetation data collected from 2001-2009 have been analyzed to determine impacts of deer herbivory on vegetation in the park. Differences between fenced plots and unfenced control plots were analyzed for the following variables: cover provided by various groups of species (woody, herbaceous, native, non-native, trees, shrubs, and woody vines), as well as by individual dominant species, vegetation thickness (a measure of percent cover projected horizontally that provides information on the vertical distribution of vegetation), and species richness overall and for groups of species (woody, herbaceous, native, non-native, trees, shrubs, and woody vines). The analyses were performed using repeated measures analysis of variance (ANOVA) and associated tests. Vegetation in plots protected from deer herbivory for 9 years showed significantly greater vegetative cover compared to plots not protected from deer herbivory. This effect was most pronounced for woody and shrub cover. Cover by the dominant species was not significantly greater in the fenced plots compared to the unfenced control plots, indicating that the significant differences observed for groups were not driven by single species within those groups. With respect to vegetation thickness, results indicate that protection from deer herbivory produced significantly higher levels of vegetation in the fenced plots compared to the unfenced control plots for both the Low (0-30 cm) and Middle (30-110 cm) height classes. Protection from deer herbivory has led to higher overall species richness and higher species richness for woody species, natives, and shrubs compared to plots not receiving protection. There is also evidence that plots protected from deer herbivory and those not receiving this protection are diverging over time with respect to a number of variables such as cover by woody and shrub species, cover in the lowest height class, and species richness of woody and native species. Recommendations were made regarding future sampling.

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Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype Federal Government Series
Title Impacts of deer herbivory on vegetation in Rock Creek Park, 2001-2009
Series title Natural Resource Report
Series number NPS/NCR/NCRO/NRTR - 2011/001
Year Published 2011
Language English
Publisher United States Department of the Interior
Publisher location Washington, D.C.
Description vi, 31
First page 1
Last page 31
Country United States
State Washington D.C.
Online Only (Y/N) N
Additional Online Files (Y/N) N