Wildlife Tech Class of 2017
Fox Lane High School
Mentor: Chris Nagy (MRG)
Project: Impacts of Deer Overpopulation on Red Oak Regeneration at Mianus River Gorge
Project Status: Completed
Project Description: White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) overpopulation is a problem throughout the north-east USA. The browsing pressures from super-abundant deer impede forest regeneration and growth in saplings. To measure the impacts of deer overbrowsing and the success of the local deer management program, I planted and monitored 60 red oak saplings in the Mianus River Gorge, a nature preserve in Bedford, NY. The red oaks were regularly assessed for browse damage, mortality and number of leaves. A majority of the oaks were browsed and many of these browsing lead to mortality (80% mortality), slowing red oak regeneration. Overall mean leaves was lower for experimental trees versus control (fenced) and gradually diminished since planting. This suggests that of the saplings, which survived thus far, most have been stunted and become smaller since planting due to deer browse. Data suggests that deer are still overpopulated and continue to cause substantial damage to the forest’s ability to regenerate. If deer overpopulation in this region persists then a backward succession and loss of biodiversity in tree species will likely occur. Mianus has a deer management program but it has not been enough to subdue deer numbers as of yet.