Annual Cycles of Growth and Use of Chinese Privet by White-tailed Deer in Northwestern Georgia

Chinese privet (Ligustrum sinense) is a common shrub in the southeastern United States, but no studies have examined white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) use of privet. We investigated the seasonality of deer use of privet browse and the effect of deer browsing on privet twig growth. We tagged and repeatedly measured about 200 privet twig clusters in forest and field-edge habitats at Chickamauga Battlefield Park (CBP) in northwestern Georgia during 2 consecutive years. Twig clusters were examined bimonthly for signs of recent browsing and measured in November, January, March, and July during both years. Deer browsing on privet was highly concentrated in the winter months when percent use reached >60% in both habitats. Twig cluster length was reduced during the winter browsing period by <5.0 cm and the reduction was exceeded 4- to 6-fold by regrowth. The heavy winter use of privet by deer and privet's great capacity for regrowth suggest that privet may be an important deer forage in the southeastern United States.

Publication date
Starting page
Ending page