Impacts Of White-Tailed Deer On The Vegetation Of Cades Cove. Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The impact of a concentrated (.52 deer / hal herd of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) on the vegetation in Cades Cove is discussed. Utilization by cattle and horses had a greater impact on the woodlots in the cove than utilization by deer. Livestock reduced the number of vascular plant species and woody stem counts in all strata sampled. Deer utilization reduced the total plant species number and favored conifers in the 3 cm dbh and smaller stem size classes. Species such as dogwood (Comus .florida), white oak (Quercus alba), and redbud (Cercis canadensis), which were common on limestone elsewhere in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, were much reduced around Cades Cove. The intensive impacts of deer on vegetation do not appear to extend more than I km from Cades Cove.

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