Strickland, Bronson K.

Committee Member

Lashley, Marcus A.

Committee Member

Alexander, Heather D.

Date of Degree


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Declining oak (Quercus spp.) dominance across the eastern U.S. is often attributed to fire exclusion and abundant white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Fire restoration can negatively affect acorn germination and survival directly but also indirectly through impacts on seed predation. Similarly, masting events could influence oak regeneration success by altering deer behavior. To date, virtually no information exists assessing indirect effects of acorn consumers on oak regeneration. I developed two experiments to address this knowledge gap. In the first experiment, I determined if burning acorns affects predator removal rates. In the second experiment, I assessed the indirect effects of mast seeding on plant communities mediated by deer. Burning acorns decreased acorn removal rates. This could increase survival to spring for acorns that survived exposure to fire. Mast seeding increased local deer use, decreased the competitive advantage of local oak seedlings, but increased beta diversity in the understory.