Publication Date


Document Type


Committee Members

Don Cipollini (Committee Member), Thomas Rooney (Advisor), John Stireman Iii (Committee Member)

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


White-tailed deer directly impact vegetation structure and species composition through selective foraging, and indirectly impact other species by altering habitat, food-web interactions, and microclimate. I examined the direct effects of deer exclusion on vegetation communities, and indirect effects on beetle, spider, and web-building spider (WBS) assemblages. Forb and woody plant percent cover were higher in exclosures, while graminoid cover was higher in controls. There were no differences in beetle and spider assemblages between browsed and protected areas. The absence of differences could be attributed to legacy effects, or alternatively high vagility of individuals. WBS assemblages were more abundant and diverse in protected areas, reflecting differences in web site availability and litter depth. This suggests indirect effects of deer alter arthropod assemblages. Through selective feeding, deer act as ecosystem engineers. They are indirectly changing the WBS assemblages in this area, and may be changing beetle and spider assemblage composition.

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Department or Program

Department of Biological Sciences

Year Degree Awarded


Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.

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Biology Commons