Mississippi State University
Bronson K. Strickland
Marcus A. Lashley
Date of Degree
Original embargo terms
Graduate Thesis - Open Access
Wildlife, Fisheries, and Aquaculture
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.
Navarre, Beau, "Effects of year-round supplemental feeding of white-tailed deer on plant community dynamics" (2021). Theses and Dissertations. 5182.