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Harvard Forest Symposium Abstract 2008

  • Title: The Role of Moose and Deer Browsing in Regenerating Oak-Pine Forests of Southern New England
  • Primary Author: Edward Faison (Highstead, Inc.)
  • Additional Authors: Justin Compton (University of Massachusetts at Amherst); Stephen DeStefano (U. S. Geological Survey, Cooperative Research Unit Program, University of Massachusetts); David Foster (Harvard Forest); Howard Kilpatrick ()
  • Abstract:

    In the past 15 years, moose have spread south from Vermont, New Hampshire, and Maine and recolonized their pre-historical range limit in southern New England from which they had been extirpated almost 200 years earlier. Intensive moose browsing in the boreal forest has caused declines in forest density and shifts in species composition in some areas, generating considerable interest and concern among foresters, wildlife managers, and ecologists as to how moose along with white-tailed deer will impact forest development in this region. Six 20x20m exclosures with adjacent control plots have been constructed by scientists from the University of Massachusetts in recently logged oak-pine stands of the Quabbin and Ware River Watersheds. Three exclosures prevent both deer and moose from entering and three have a two foot opening at the base to enable deer alone to enter and forage. Six additional exclosure and control plots will be constructed this year in recently logged pine plantations at the Harvard Forest, and additional exclosures are scheduled to be built by the Connecticut DEP in logged stands of Northern Connecticut. Within each exclosure and control plot, seedlings, saplings, shrubs, and herbaceous plants will be identified, counted, and measured for height; soil characteristics will be analyzed; and browsing, bark-stripping, antler rubbing, and stem breakage by moose and deer will be assessed. This long-term study of combined moose and deer impacts to temperate forests will be one of the first of its kind in North America and will have unusually large replication and geographical extent for an exclosure experiment.

  • Research Category: Conservation and Management, Large Experiments and Permanent Plot Studies, Regional Studies