Finding the Trophic Trickle: Using Herbaceous Indicator Species to Investigate Plant Recovery from Intense Browsing by White-Tailed Deer (Odocoileus Virginianus) after The Re-colonization of A Top Predator (Canis Lupus)
David Goldstein (Other), Thomas Rooney (Advisor), James Runkle (Committee Member), Joseph F. Thomas, Jr. (Other), Yvonne Vadeboncoeur (Committee Member)
Master of Science (MS)
High densities of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) have been implicated in changing forest community structure and composition. Top predators, including gray wolf (Canis lupus), were extirpated from much of their range by the mid 1900s, but have since returned to Northern Wisconsin. To determine whether the re-colonization of wolves could initiate a trophic cascade resulting in the recovery of understory plants from deer browsing, I surveyed four herbaceous species in areas without wolves and areas with 4-6 year old wolf packs and 12-13 year old wolf packs. Plant size and reproduction were greater in areas where wolves had been for 12-13 years compared to areas where wolves were absent. Plant size structure shifted toward larger plants in response to wolves. Lack of a significant response in the 4-6 year vegetation indicates a lag time in the trophic cascade.
Department or Program
Department of Biological Sciences
Year Degree Awarded
Copyright 2009, some rights reserved. My ETD may be copied and distributed only for non-commercial purposes and may not be modified. All use must give me credit as the original author.
Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.