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Harvard Forest Data Archive

HF174

Role of Moose and Deer Browsing in Harvested Forests of Southern New England since 2008

Related Publications

Data

Overview

  • Lead: Edward Faison, Stephen DeStefano, David Foster
  • Investigators:
  • Contact: Edward Faison
  • Start date: 2008
  • End date: 2014
  • Status: ongoing
  • Location: Prospect Hill Tract (Harvard Forest)
  • Latitude: +42.534 to +42.545
  • Longitude: -72.192 to -72.173
  • Elevation: 355 to 405 meter
  • Taxa: Acer rubrum (red maple), Alces alces (moose), Betula spp. (birch), Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer), Pinus strobus (white pine), Prunus spp. (cherry), Quercus spp. (oak)
  • Release date: 2017
  • Revisions:
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.174.10
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • Related links:
  • Study type: long-term measurement
  • Research topic: conservation and management; large experiments and permanent plot studies; regional studies
  • LTER core area: populations, disturbance
  • Keywords: browsing, deer, herbivory, moose, regeneration, timber harvest
  • Abstract:

    In the past 20 years, moose have spread south from Vermont and New Hampshire 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. Harvard Forest in collaboration with researchers at the USGS Massachusetts Cooperative Research Unit has initiated a long-term study of the role of moose and deer in SNE forests using experimental exclosures. The design is a randomized block with 3 factors -- full exclosure, partial exclosure, and control plot. Full exclosures exclude both moose and deer but allow access to small mammals such as mice, squirrels, and rabbits. Partial exclosures have a 60cm opening around the bottom perimeter of the fence, which excludes moose but allows access to deer and other small and medium-sized animals. The design enables us to quantify forest composition and structure in areas (1) exposed to moose and deer browsing,(2) protected from moose and deer browsing, and (3) exposed to deer browsing but protected from moose browsing.

  • Methods:

    Study Design

    A randomized block design with three factors -- full exclosure, partial exclosure, and open plot -- were established in four harvested conifer plantations at Harvard Forest ranging in size from 1 to 19 ha. Exclosures are 23x23m (to enable the establishment of a 20x20m plot with buffer from fence edge inside) with 2.4 meter tall fences, and the partial exclosure has a 0.6 meter opening at the bottom to allow access to deer but not moose (Compton and DeStefano 2008). Open plots are 20x20m in size. Treatments are positioned at least 10 meters from each other.

    Sampling protocol

    Tree Seedlings. In each 20x20 m treatment, a 5 x 5 matrix of subplots was laid out in the center of the plot (4m from edges and 3m from each other). Each circular subplot was 2.25 m in diameter (100 m2 total sampling area per plot) (Risenhoover and Maas 1987). The center of each subplot was marked with a permanent stake. In each subplot all tree seedlings (at least 30cm DBH less than 2.5cm DBH) were tallied, identified, and given a height class (30-99cm, 1-2m, and greater than 2m. For sprout clumps, stems that shared a common base above the stump were characterized as a single stem, whereas stems that individually attached to the stump were counted as separate. Data from the subplots were summed. Each stem in the partial and control plot was assessed for evidence of past ungulate browsing (a torn, ragged stem).

    Coarse Woody Debris. Two diagonal transects were run from corner to corner and two transects and bisected the plot in a N-S direction and E-W direction. The diameter of every piece of wood that intersected the line-transect (greater than 7.5 cm in diameter) was recorded.

    Stumps. All stumps within the 20x20m plots were measured for diameter and identified.

    Browsing. Each woody stem at least 50 cm and no more than 3m is assessed for past browsing by estimating the percentage of twigs branching off the main stem that are browsed by moose or deer (torn, ragged, squared off bite). Stems are assigned to one of the following browsing classes: (0 = none, 1=1-33% twigs browsed, 2 = 34-66% twigs browsed, 3 = 67-100% twigs browsed). The leading shoot of each stem was also assessed for past browsing.

    Low Shrubs and Herbaceous Vegetation. In each of the 25 subplots in the three treatments, the percent cover of graminoids, Rubus, Fern, and Ericaceous shrubs are estimated using the following cover classes: 0 = absent, 1 = 1-24%, 2= 25-49%, 3 = 50-74%, 4 = 75-100%

    Pellet Groups. In each of the 25 subplots in the three treatments, the number of deer and moose pellet groups (at least 15 individual pellets = a group) were recorded. Total pellet groups for each species was pooled for each plot.

    Bird Nests. In each of the 20 x 20 m plots in the three treatments, the presence of bird nests were noted, and the height of the nest above ground was measured. Bird nests were generally not able to be identified.

    In 2013, we sampled all herbaceous and woody vegetation in 13, 1 m2 grid plots in a systematic grid in the center of each plot. Five rows were established with 3 subplots on the outer and middle rows and two subplots in the second and fourth rows. Subplots were positioned 6 m apart within the same row and 4.5 meters apart between rows. At each 1 x 1 m subplot, all vascular plants in the forest floor layer were recorded by a single observer (original field data collected by Glenn Motzkin archived at Harvard Forest). Percent cover was estimated for each species and for each plant group (i.e., woody plants, graminoids, and forbs), as well as rock cover and coarse woody debris, in one of 7 cover classes (1 = less than 1%, 2 = 1-5%, 3 = 6-15%; 4 = 16-25%, 5 = 26-50; 6 = 51-75%, 7 = 76-100%). We also estimated the percent cover of woody plants ≥ 2 m in height. In addition, we performed a 20 minute “meander” survey throughout the central 13 x 13 m of each plot and recorded the presence of all woody and herbaceous plant species that did not occur in the subplots.

    Our tree data were collected in July 2014, 6–7 years after plots were established. We established 13 4-m2 subplots along 5 successive parallel transect lines within each of the larger 20 x 20 m treatment plots, totaling a 52-m2 sampling area. Three subplots were positioned on the 2 outer and middle rows, and 2 subplots in the second and fourth rows. The center of each subplot was 6 m apart within the same row and 4.5 meters apart between rows. At each of the subplots, all tree and shrub species ≥2 m in height were recorded, and the diameter at breast height (DBH) of each stem was measured.

  • Use:

    This dataset is released to the public under Creative Commons license CC BY (Attribution). Please keep the designated contact person informed of any plans to use the dataset. Consultation or collaboration with the original investigators is strongly encouraged. Publications and data products that make use of the dataset must include proper acknowledgement.

  • Citation:

    Faison E, DeStefano S, Foster D. 2017. Role of Moose and Deer Browsing in Harvested Forests of Southern New England since 2008. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF174.

Detailed Metadata

hf174-01: stumps

  1. plot: unique plot name
  2. species: tree species or genus name
  3. diameter: stump diameter (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)

hf174-02: coarse woody debris

  1. plot: unique plot name
  2. diameter: diameter of all woody debris pieces greater than or equal to 7.5cm (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)

hf174-03: tree seedlings

  1. plot: unique plot name
  2. species: tree species or genus name
  3. height.class: height category of seedlings
    • 1: 30 to 99 centimeters
    • 2: 1 to 2 meters

hf174-04: stumps 2010

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. species: tree species or genus name
  4. diameter: stump diameter (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)

hf174-05: cwd 2010

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. diameter: diameter of all woody debris pieces greater than or equal to 7.5cm (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)

hf174-06: tree seedlings 2010

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. species: tree species or genus name
  4. height.class: height category of seedlings
    • 1: 30 to 99 centimeters
    • 2: 1 to 1.99 meters
    • 3: 2 to 2.99 meters
    • 4: ≥3 meters
  5. browsed: presence or absence of ungulate browsing on stem
    • 0: no browsing
    • 1: browsed

hf174-07: tree and shrub seedlings

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. species: tree or upright shrub species or genus name (excludes Rubus, vines, and ericaceous shrubs)
  4. height: height of stem (at least 0.5 meters) (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  5. lead.shoot: presence or absence of of ungulate browsing on stem
    • 0: no browsing
    • 1: browsed
  6. browsing.class: browsing class
    • 0: unbrowsed
    • 1: 1-33% of twigs browsed
    • 2: 34-66% of twigs browsed
    • 3: 67-100% of twigs browsed
  7. dbh1: diameter at breast height of stems at least 2.5 cm DBH (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  8. dbh2: diameter at breast height of second stem of double-stemmed tree (at least 2.5 cm DBH) (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  9. dbh3: diameter at breast height of third stem of triple-stemmed tree (at least 2.5 cm DBH) (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  10. dbh4: diameter at breast height of fourth stem of multi-stemmed tree (at least 2.5 cm DBH) (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)

hf174-08: shrub and herb percent cover

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. subplot: name of 4m2 circular sampling area (A to Y)
  4. rubus: percent cover class of all Rubus spp. in each subplot
    • 0: none
    • 1: 1-24%
    • 2: 25-49%
    • 3: 50-74%
    • 4: 75-100%
  5. ericaceous: percent cover of all Gaylussacia spp. and Vaccinium spp. in subplots
    • 0: none
    • 1: 1-24%
    • 2: 25-49%
    • 3: 50-74%
    • 4: 75-100%
  6. graminoid: percent cover of combined grass, sedge, and rush cover in each subplot
    • 0: none
    • 1: 1-24%
    • 2: 25-49%
    • 3: 50-74%
    • 4: 75%-100%
  7. fern: percent cover of combined fern species in each subplot
    • 0: none
    • 1: 1-24%
    • 2: 25-49%
    • 3: 50-74%
    • 4: 75-100%
  8. m.canadense: percent cover of Maianthemum canadense in each subplot
    • 0: none
    • 1: 1-24%
    • 2: 25-49%
    • 3: 50-74%
    • 4: 75-100%

hf174-09: pellet groups

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. deer: total number of deer pellet groups in each plot (unit: number / missing value: NA)
  4. moose: total number of moose pellet groups in each plot (unit: number / missing value: NA)

hf174-10: bird nests

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. bird.nest: presence or absence of ≥ 1 bird nest in 20 x 20 m plot
    • 0: absent
    • 1: present
  4. nest.height1: height above ground of nest in plot (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  5. nest.height2: height above ground of second nest in plot (unit: meter / missing value: NA)

hf174-11: herbaceous layer species inventory

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full: no ungulates
    • Partial: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. subplot: name of 1m2 sampling area (A to Y); meander = broader search for plant species outside of subplots in 169 m2 area of treatment plots
  4. species: species
  5. cover: percent cover class of all taxa in each subplot
    • 1: <1%
    • 2: 1-5%
    • 3: 6-15%
    • 4: 16-25%
    • 5: 26-50%
    • 6: 51-75%
    • 7: 76-100%
    • > 2 m ht: height greater than 2 m
  6. repro: presense of flowers or fruits on forb and shrub species
    • FL: flowers
    • Fl buds: flower buds
    • Fr: fruit
    • imm Fr: immature fruit
  7. ht.dom.forb: height in centimeters of the most abundant forb species in the subplot (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  8. ht.dom.gram: height in centimeters of the most abundant forb species in the subplot (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  9. notes: notes. out of subplot = rooted outside of subplot but included in aerial cover of subplot

hf174-12: life form percent covers

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: treatment
    • Full: no ungulates
    • Partial: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. subplot: name of 1m2 sampling area (A to Y); meander = broader search for plant species outside of subplots in 169 m2 area of treatment plots.
  4. cwd: percent cover class of coarse woody debris in each 1m2 subplots
    • 1: <1%
    • 2: 1-5%
    • 3: 6-15%
    • 4: 16-25%
    • 5: 26-50%
    • 6: 51-75%
    • 7: 76-100%
  5. rock: percent cover class of coarse rocks in each 1m2 subplots
    • 1: <1%
    • 2: 1-5%
    • 3: 6-15%
    • 4: 16-25%
    • 5: 26-50%
    • 6: 51-75%
    • 7: 76-100%
  6. graminoid: percent cover class of combined grasses and sedges in 1m2 subplots
    • 1: <1%
    • 2: 1-5%
    • 3: 6-15%
    • 4: 16-25%
    • 5: 26-50%
    • 6: 51-75%
    • 7: 76-100%
  7. forb: percent cover class of all forbs in 1m2 subplots
    • 1: <1%
    • 2: 1-5%
    • 3: 6-15%
    • 4: 16-25%
    • 5: 26-50%
    • 6: 51-75%
    • 7: 76-100%
  8. woody.under2m: percent cover class of all woody plants less than 2 m in height in 1m2 subplots
    • 1: <1%
    • 2: 1-5%
    • 3: 6-15%
    • 4: 16-25%
    • 5: 26-50%
    • 6: 51-75%
    • 7: 76-100%
  9. woody.over2m: percent cover class of all woody plants greater than or equal to 2 m in height in 1m2 subplots
    • 1: <1%
    • 2: 1-5%
    • 3: 6-15%
    • 4: 16-25%
    • 5: 26-50%
    • 6: 51-75%
    • 7: 76-100%
  10. notes: notes

hf174-13: tree species inventory

  1. site: name of study block
  2. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full: no ungulates
    • Partial: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  3. subplot: name of 4m2 sampling area
  4. species: tree species or genus name
  5. dbh: diameter at breast height of all woody stems at least 2 meters in height (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  6. health: health status
    • 1: stem alive
    • 0: stem dead