Abstract

Title:  Deer Forage Availability from Stand Initiation to Canopy Closure in North Carolina Loblolly Pine Stands*
Author(s): Graham M Marsh
Year: 2011
Abstract: In the southeastern United States, current intensive silvicultural regimes can boost loblolly pine (Pinus taeda) yields by more than 150% over unmanaged stands. However, there are gaps in our knowledge regarding white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) forage production in young plantations managed with these intensive regimes. Therefore, we examined response of deer food plants to six stand reestablishment treatments on six sites in the North Carolina Lower Coastal Plain. Treatments were designed to represent an intensity gradient of silvicultural regimes incorporating chemical site preparation (CSP), mechanical site preparation (MSP), herbaceous release (banded or broadcast), and row spacing. We established treatments in 2001, and measured percent cover of all vegetation during seven growing seasons. We classified growing season vegetation as preferred or non preferred using information from published literature and grouped plants into woody, herbaceous, and vines for analyses. All groups rebounded quickly following release treatments in the first growing season. Treatment differences were most pronounced for preferred woody cover due to effect of CSP. Treatments with the lowest woody cover had highest coverage of preferred herbaceous plants. Herbaceous food plants were greatest at 3 to 4 years post treatment and declined rapidly thereafter due to canopy closure with little difference among treatments. Wide spacing resulted in a greater abundance of preferred woody and vine cover, but not herbaceous cover. Woody vegetation was affected in all years, but all treatments produced abundant forage from stand initiation until canopy closure at the end of the study. Therefore, it appears that current management practices examined in this study promote forage for white-tailed deer during early rotation

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