The Monthly Availability And Use Of Browse Plants By Deer On A Bottomland Hardwood Area In Tensas Parish, Louisiana

The monthly availability and use of browse plants for food by white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) was studied from February 197\\ through January \\972 on Durango HuntingClub, a bottomland hardwood area in Tensas Parish, Louisiana. A modified version of the Aldous Deer Browse Survey Method was used to determine the monthly availability of all plants present and the actual use of these plants by deer. A total of 141 plant species and plant groups was 39 identified and studied. Eighty-one (57.4%) of the 141 plant species and groups were utilized to some extent by deer. The largest number of plant species and groups (100) was available in August, while February had the smallest number (32). During the month of February, 16 (50.0%) of the 32 available species and groups were utilized by deer as compared to August when 30 (30.0%) of the 100 were browsed. Over the l2-month period, the mean number of browsed species and groups was 26 (36.6%). The number of plant species and groups utilized by deer for anyone month for this period did not exceed 50% of the total number of plant species and groups available. On a monthly basis, dewberry (Rubus spp.)2 was the most important deer browse plant in five of the months (January, February, March, November, and December). Aster (Aster spp.) was the most important deer browse plant in April and June. Trumpet creeper (Campsis radicans) ranked first in May, July, August, September and October. The most abundant plants on a monthly basis were dewberry and poison ivy (Rhus radicans). Dewberry ranked first in January, February, March, September, October, November, and December. Poison ivy was the most abundant plant in April, May, June, July, and August. On a seasonal basis, dewberry and trumpet creeper were the top ranking deer browse plants. Dewberry was the top deer browse plant in spring and winter, and trumpet creeper was the most important plant in summer and fall. Dewberry and poison ivy were the most abundant plants for the four seasons. The most abundant plant in spring, fall and winter was dewberry, while poison ivy was the most abundant plant for summer. For the l2-month period as a whole, dewberry ranked first both as the most important deer browse plant and as the most abundant plant. The mast of sweet pecan (Carya il/inoensis) and the fruit and foliage of cultivated soybeans were also heavily used as food by deer on the study area.

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