Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University


Stephen Demarais

Committee Member

Bronson K. Strickland

Committee Member

Marcus A. Lashley

Date of Degree


Original embargo terms


Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Open Access


Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science


College of Forest Resources


Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture


Supplemental feeding is commonly practiced to enhance available nutrition for white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). The effects of supplemental feeding on the surrounding vegetative community may be related to herbivory, trampling, and seed dispersal. I evaluated how these potential mechanisms affect vegetative communities using a matched-pair design (fed and ecologically equivalent unfed sites) during 2018-2020. In a short-term manipulative portion of the study, I sampled the vegetation prior to feeding and during two years of feeding. In a long-term retrospective study, I sampled feeders established 5-7 years previously. Feeders increased daily detection rate of deer and seed dispersing non-target wildlife, percentage of browsed plants, bare ground, and seed deposition. Plant communities diverged increasingly more from year 1 through years 5-7. Supplemental feeding directly affects local understory plant communities due to increased herbivory and trampling, while seed dispersal by non-target wildlife and increased bare ground may facilitate invasion of non-desirable plant species.