Project Title: Large deer population in Middletown, Rhode Island stifles tree recruitment and encourages settlement of invasive species
Mentor: Hope Leeson
Abstract: The high white-tailed deer, Odocoileus virginianus, population in Middletown, RI has led to a large amount of native plants being consumed. A better understanding of the deer population in Middletown and its effect on the native plant communities can provide crucial knowledge for managing the deer population. A modified Daubenmire Index was used to estimate the forest’s vegetation abundance by species. Two infrared wildlife cameras were set up for 14 days to capture day and night activity of deer. High browse impact was found on native shrub species, while invasive and thorny plant species were less impacted by deer browse. Tree saplings above 1 M tall and below 5 M tall were absent, showing low tree recruitment. Heavy deer browse is shaping the forests in Norman Bird Sanctuary, and deer management solutions should be developed to allow for regeneration over time of the forest system.