Framework for assessing the susceptibility of management areas to deer impacts

We reviewed the impacts of deer on New Zealand’s forest flora and developed some guidelines for estimating the intensities of deer control required for achieving three representative management goals for forest ecosystems: (i) maintaining an intact forest canopy, (ii) maintaining an intact mature sub-canopy, and (iii) maintaining all forest species. We used the results of a recent study classifying common plant species as either ‘preferred’, ‘not preferred and not avoided’, or ‘avoided’ by deer. This three-way classification was translated into a relative density of deer (low, medium and high) likely to help achieve the above management goals. The guidelines successfully predicted observed changes inside and outside of exclosures for preferred and avoided species. However, sufficient data were available for only the most common species, and more data are required in order to predict the consequences of deer control for other species. Because the long-term and relative roles of deer and biophysical factors on forest dynamics are unknown, the uncertainty surrounding the predicted outcomes of deer control is large. Controlling deer to low densities will not necessarily ‘reverse’ the historical changes caused by deer, but rather should be seen as a prerequisite for allowing the regeneration of some highly preferred species provided that other abiotic and biotic conditions are present.

Author Forsyth, D. M., Coomes, D. A. and Nugent, G.
Date null
Year 2003
Secondary title Science for Conservation
Volume 213
Pages 39
Notes Notes
ISBN/ISSN ISSN 1173-2946 / ISBN 0-478-22347-1
Region NZ