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Harvard Forest Data Archive

HF241

Role of Moose and Deer Browsing in Unharvested Forests of Southern New England since 2011

Related Publications

Data

Overview

  • Lead: Edward Faison, Stephen DeStefano, David Foster
  • Investigators:
  • Contact: Edward Faison
  • Start date: 2011
  • End date: 2016
  • Status: ongoing
  • Location: Central Massachusetts
  • Latitude: +42.262 to +42.543
  • Longitude: -72.345 to -72.178
  • Elevation: 152 to 369 meter
  • Taxa: Acer rubrum (red maple), Alces alces (moose), Odocoileus virginianus (white-tailed deer), Quercus spp. (oak), Trientalis borealis (starflower), Tsuga canadensis (hemlock)
  • Release date: 2019
  • Revisions:
  • EML file: knb-lter-hfr.241.4
  • DOI: digital object identifier
  • Related links:
  • Study type: long-term measurement
  • Research topic: conservation and management; large experiments and permanent plot studies; physiological ecology, population dynamics and species interactions
  • LTER core area: populations
  • Keywords: browsing, deer, herbivory, moose, regeneration
  • Abstract:

    In the past 25 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 regeneration, composition, and diversity 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 unharvested forest stands (oak and hemlock). Exclosures are 20 x 20 m 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 Open plots are 20x20m in size. Treatment plots are positioned at least 10 meters from each other.

    Sampling protocol

    Overstory Trees. In each 20 x 20 m plots, all trees at least 2.5 cm DBH are measured for diameter and identified to species or genus.

    Woody 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). The center of each subplot was marked with a permanent stake. In each subplot all tree seedlings (at least 30 cm tall and less than 2.5cm DBH) were tallied, identified, and measured for height. 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).

    Herbs. Herbaceous plants were sampled using a 1 x 1 m sampling grid at each of the 25 marked locations used for woody seedlings (above). Species present were tallied, the height of the tallest individual was measured, and reproductive status was recorded (flowering or fruiting).

    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.

  • 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. 2019. Role of Moose and Deer Browsing in Unharvested Forests of Southern New England since 2011. Harvard Forest Data Archive: HF241.

Detailed Metadata

hf241-01: trees

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

hf241-02: seedlings

  1. year: year
  2. site: name of study block
  3. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  4. species: tree or shrub species or genus name
  5. height: height of stem (at least 0.3 meters) (unit: meter / missing value: NA)
  6. browsed: presence or absence of ungulate browsing on stem
    • 0: no browsing
    • 1: browsed

hf241-03: herbs

  1. year: year
  2. site: name of study block
  3. treatment: experimental level of ungulate species
    • Full Exclosure: no ungulates
    • Partial Exclosure: white-tailed deer
    • Control: moose and white-tailed deer
  4. subplot: name of 1 x 1 m grid plot
  5. species: herb species or genus
  6. height: height of tallest individual of species (unit: centimeter / missing value: NA)
  7. fruit: whether or not plant was fruiting
    • 0: not fruiting
    • 1: fruiting
  8. flower: whether or not plant was flowering
    • 0: not flowering
    • 1: flowering

hf241-04: 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: presence 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

hf241-05: life form percent covers

  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. 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