Literature Addressing Impacts Of Deer On Forest Vegetation

Listed first are some DNR reports and links detailing deer management and deer impacts in Wisconsin.

Literature documenting research on and observation of deer impacts on forests is extensive and dates back to at least the 1940’s. However, most results are localized, and long-term, large-scale landscape impacts are mostly theoretical interpretations based on syntheses of many local studies.

The attached list of citations is a limited selected list focusing on Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. Many of the papers contain extensive lists of cited references for additional documentation.

WDNR Reports and Links

WDNR. 1995. Wisconsin’s biodiversity as a management issue. State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour. Pub-RS-915.

WDNR. Vander Zouwen, W.J. and D.K. Warnke, eds. 1995. Deer population goals and harvest management: Environmental assessment. State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour.

WDNR. 1998. Wisconsin’s deer management program: The issues involved in decision-making (second edition). State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour. Publ-SS-931-98

WDNR. 2000. Deer management for 2000 and beyond: Final report of the forestry and ecological issues study group. State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour.

WDNR. Kubisiak, J.F., K.R. McCaffery, W.A. Creed, T.A. Heberlein, R.C. Bishop, and R.E. Rolley. 2002. Sandhill whitetails: Providing new perspective for deer management. State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour. Pub-SS-962

WDNR. 2006. A 155-year chronology of Wisconsin deer hunting. State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour. Final Report of the Forestry and Ecological Issues Study Group.

WDNR. 2006. Wisconsin deer population, 1960-2003. State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour.

WDNR. 2006. Deer densities in Wisconsin deer management units (2005). State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour.

WDNR. Rolley, R.E. 2006. White-tailed deer population status 2005. State of Wisconsin, Dept. of Natl. Resour.

Wisconsin - Periodicals and Newspapers

Ness, E. 2003. Oh deer: Exploding populations of white-tailed deer are stripping our forests of life. Discover 24(3)

WWOA 2006 Woodland Management 27(2) – several articles


Alverson, W.S., D.M. Waller, and S.L. Solheim. 1988. Forests to deer: edge effects in northern Wisconsin. Conserv. Biol. 2(4):348-358

Leopold, A., E.F. Bean, and N.C. Fassett. 1943. Deer irruptions. Wisc. Conserv. Bull. 8:3-11

Rooney, T.P. and K. Gross. 2003. A demographic study of deer browsing impacts on Trillium grandiflorum. Plant Ecol. 168:267-277

Rooney, T.P. and D.M. Waller. 2003. Direct and indirect effects of deer in forest ecosystems. For. Ecol. & Mgmt. 181:165-176

Rooney, T.P., S.L. Solheim, and D.M. Waller. 2002. Factors influencing the regeneration of northern white cedar in lowland forests of the Upper Great Lakes region, USA. Forest Ecology & Management. 163: 119-130.

Rooney, T.P. 2001. Deer impacts on forest ecosystems: a North American perspective. Forestry 74(3):201-208

Stoeckeler, J.H., R.O. Strothmann, and L.W. Krefting. 1957. Effect of deer browsing on reproduction in the northern hardwood-hemlock type in northeastern Wisconsin. J. Wildl. Mgmt. 21(1):75-80

Swift, E. 1948. Wisconsin’s deer damage to forest reproduction survey – final report. Wis. Cons. Dept. Publ. No. 347. 24pp.

Weigmann, S.M. and D.M. Waller. 2006. Fifty years of change in northern upland forest understories: Identity and traits of “winners” and “losers” plant species. Biol. Conserv. 129:109-123


Cook, B. ed. 2005. Proceedings, Forest & Wildlife – Striving for balance, Michigan Society of American Foresters

Donovan, G. 2005. Chronic regeneration failure in northern hardwood stands: A liability to certified forest landowners. In: Cook, B. ed. Proceedings, Forest & Wildlife – Striving for balance, Michigan Society of American Foresters

Frelich, L.E. and C.G. Lorimer. 1985. Current and predicted long-term effects of deer browsing in hemlock forests in Michigan, USA. Biol. Conserv. 34:99-120

Graham, S.A. 1958. Results of deer exclosure experiments in the Ottawa National Forest. Transactions of the North American Wildlife Conf. 23:478-490

Hurley, P.M. and D. Flaspohler. 2005. An assessment of long-term biodiversity recovery from intense and sustained deer browse on North Manitou Island, Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. In: Cook, B. ed. Proceedings, Forest & Wildlife – Striving for balance, Michigan Society of American Foresters

LeBouton, J.P. 2005. Forests for dinner: Exploring a model of how deer affect advance regeneration at stand and landscape scales. In: Cook, B. ed. Proceedings, Forest & Wildlife – Striving for balance, Michigan Society of American Foresters

Markovic, K. and T. Ashbrook. 1997. Regeneration of northern hardwoods in areas with high deer populations. Report to the Northern Hardwoods Subcommittee, LS-FOREM, Mich. Tech. Univ. 16 pp.

Michigan Society of American Foresters. 2006. Position statement on white-tailed deer management in Michigan

Miller, R.O. 2004. Regeneration in a heavily browsed northern hardwood stand twelve years after scarification and fencing. Upper Peninsula Tree Improvement Center Research Report.

Randall, J.A. and M.B. Walters. 2005. Deer and sedge: Bottlenecks to seedling regeneration in northern hardwood forests and potential restoration techniques aimed at reversing the effects. In: Cook, B. ed. Proceedings, Forest & Wildlife – Striving for balance, Michigan Society of American Foresters

Pennsylvania and New York

Butt, J.P. 1984. Deer and trees on the Allegheny. J. For. Aug:468-471

Canham, C.D., J.B. McAninch, and D.M. Wood. 1994. Effects of the frequency, timing, and intensity of simulated browsing on growth and mortality of tree seedlings. Can. J. For. Res. 24:817-825

Horsley, S.B., S.L. Stout, and D.S. DeCalesta. 2003. White-tailed deer impact on the vegetation dynamics of a northern hardwood forest. Ecol. Appl. 13(1):98-118

Jacobson, M. 2001. Fencing for forest regeneration: Does it pay? Penn. State Univ., Agric. Res. Coop. Ext. 6pp.

Jones, S.B., D. DeCalesta, and S.E. Chunko. 1993. Whitetails are changing our woodlands. Amer. For. Nov/Dec:20-25

Marquis, D.A. 1981. Effect of deer browsing on timber production in Allegheny hardwood forests of northwestern Pennsylvania. USDA For. Serv. Res. Pap. NE-475 10pp

Marquis, D.A. 1981. Management of Allegheny hardwoods for timber and wildlife. In: Proceedings, 17th IUFRO World Congress: Division 1. Forest environment and silviculture. Kyoto, Japan, 1981. Japan IUFRO Cong. Comm. 17:369-380

Shafer, E.L., T.J. Grisez, and E. Sowa. 1961. Results of deer exclosure studies in northeastern Pennsylvania. USDA For. Serv., NE For. Exp. Stn., For. Res. Notes No. 121

Stout, S. 2005. Even-aged silviculture as an approach to regeneration of forests with high deer densities. In: Cook, B. ed. Proceedings, Forest & Wildlife – Striving for balance, Michigan Society of American Foresters

Tilghman, N.G. 1989. Impacts of white-tailed deer on forest regeneration in northwestern Pennsylvania. J. Wildl. Mgmt. 53(3):524-532

Witmer, G.W. and D. DeCalesta. 1992. The need and difficulty of bringing the Pennsylvania deer herd under control. Proc. East. Wildl. Damage Control. Conf. 5:130-137

Horsley, S.B. and S.L. Stout. 2004. The forest nobody knows. USDA For. Serv., NE Res. Stn., For. Science Review 1. 6 pp.


Augustine, D.J. and L.E. Frelich. 1998. Evidence of two alternate stable states in an ungulate grazing system. Ecol. Appl. 8:1260-1269

Brown, S.E. 1996. The impact of white-tailed deer on the forest communities of Indiana. Thesis, Purdue Univ. 95 pp.

Cote, S.D., T.P. Rooney, J.P. Tremblay, C. Dussault, and D.M. Waller. 2004. Ecological impacts of deer overabundance. Ann. Rev. Ecol. Evol. Syst. 35:113-147

McShea, W.J., H.B. Underwood, and J.H. Rappole eds. 1997. The science of overabundance, deer ecology and population management. Smithsonian Books, Washington and London, 394 pp.

Webster, C.R., M.A. Jenkins, and J.H. Rock. 2005. Long-term response of spring flora to chronic herbivory and deer exclusion in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, USA. Biol. Conserv. 125:297-307

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