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Effects of herbivores on plant populations and communities


Effects of white-tailed deer on plant populations

Experimental and observational studies by Leland Russell showed that browsing by white-tailed deer is essentially preventing the regeneration of oaks (Quercus buckleyi and Q. fusiformis) in parts of central Texas: browsing prevents new stems from growing >0.5m tall. Kevin Doyle measured the effects of browsing on many different woody species. Christina Andruk is currently studying the joint effects of deer herbivory and fire on other hardwood species.

David Zippin found that deer also have a substantial negative impact upon the endangered forb Streptanthus bracteatus.

Doyle, K. 2012. The joint effects of fire and deer herbivory on hardwood regeneration on the eastern Edwards Plateau. M.S. thesis, University of Texas at Austin.

Russell, F.L., and N.L. Fowler. 2004. Effects of white-tailed deer on the population dynamics of acorns, seedlings and small saplings of Quercus buckleyi. Plant Ecology 173:59-72.

Russell, F.L., and N.L. Fowler. 2002. Failure of adult recruitment in Quercus buckleyi populations on the eastern Edwards Plateau, Texas. American Midland Naturalist 148:201-217.

Russell, F.L., D.B. Zippin, and N.L. Fowler. 2001. Effects of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on plants, plant populations, and communities: a review. American Midland Naturalist 146:1-26.

Russell, F. L., and N. L. Fowler. 1999. Rarity of oak sampling in savannas and woodlands of the eastern Edwards Plateau. Southwestern Naturalist 44:31-41.

Zippin, D. Z. 1997. Herbivory and the population biology of a rare annual plant, the bracted twistflower (Streptanthus bracteatus). Ph.D. dissertation, University of Texas at Austin


Effects of grazing upon competition between grass species

An experimental field study found that cattle grazing is the most important factor determining the distribution of tall and short grasses, over-riding topography.  But simulated grazing is not able to alter the competitive balance between the native dominant  Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem grass) and the invasive Bothriochloa ischaemum(King Ranch bluestem grass).

Bothriochloa/Schizachyrium poster (Gabbard & Fowler 2003)

Fowler, N.L. 2002. The joint effects of herbivory, competition, and topographic position upon six grasses. Ecology 83:2477-2488.


Effects of simulated grazing on Bothriochloa ischaemum population dynamics


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