Abstract

Title:  Nutritional quality of deer browse in southern Appalachian clearcuts and mature forests.
Author(s): Ford, W. M., A. S. Johnson, and P. E. Hale
Year: 1994
Abstract: We assessed crude protein, cell wall constituent, predicted dry-matter digestibility, calcium, and phosphorus levels of the leafy browse of five deciduous woody species important to white-taiIed deer (Odocoileus vir~inianus) during the spring and summer from recent clearcuts (1 2 yr) and adjacent mature forests (2 40 yr) in northern Georgia. Direct comparisons of browse grown in clearcuts and mature forests were made with four species: blackgum (Nvssa svlvatica), red maple (Acer rubrum), sassafras (Sassafras albidurn), and sourwood (Oxvdendnun arboreurn). We collected yellow-poplar (Liriodendron tulidfera), a highly shade-intolerant species, only in clearcuts. Overall, there were few differences in the nutritional quality between browse from clearcuts and mature forests. Contrary to recent work in the Pacific Northwest region, observed levels of tannin astringency from clearcut-grown vegetation appeared to have little or no effect in reducing digestible protein in the browse we collected. The lack of differences in nutritional quality of deer browse from clearcuts and mature forests suggests that ease of foraging due to spatially concentrated resources may explain the disproportionately high use of clearcuts by deer in spring and summer in the southern Appalachians. Consequently, as managers evaluate the relationship of timber harvest to deer ecology and management in this region, primary consideration should be given to browse quantity, distribution, and species composition rather than qualitative changes resulting from cutting.

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