Theses and Dissertations

Issuing Body

Mississippi State University

Advisor

Iglay, Raymond B.

Committee Member

Demarais, Steve

Committee Member

Granger, Joshua J.

Committee Member

Hamrick, Richard G.

Date of Degree

12-9-2022

Document Type

Graduate Thesis - Campus Access Only

Major

Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Degree Name

Master of Science (M.S.)

College

College of Forest Resources

Department

Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Aquaculture

Abstract

Knowledge of the impacts of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus; hereafter deer) as dominant herbivores throughout the Southeastern United States of America is lacking. To address this, three paired experimental units of exclosures and controls were constructed in 2000 on three Wildlife Management Areas across Mississippi within the ecoregions of the Upper Coastal Plain, Lower Coastal Plain, and the Mississippi Alluvial Valley. Vegetation was sampled in the summers of 2000, 2005, and 2021 including vegetation structure, canopy coverage, basal area, and species composition. Additionally, in 2005 and 2021, biomass was sampled to determine potential impacts on nutritional carrying capacity. Among the three study sites, vegetation metrics followed successional trends and were not influenced by herbivory or lack thereof. Additionally, regional differences in nutritional carrying capacity seemed to be of greater importance than herbivory. This research illustrates the difference in effects of deer by region and forest type.

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