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Indirect Effects of Pandemic Deer Overabundance Inferred from Caterpillar-Host Relations.
MedLine Citation:
PMID:  23678968     Owner:  NLM     Status:  Publisher    
Abstract/OtherAbstract:
Externally feeding phytophagous insect larvae (i.e., caterpillars, here, larval Lepidoptera and sawflies, Hymenoptera: Symphyta) are important canopy herbivores and prey resources in temperate deciduous forests. However, composition of forest trees has changed dramatically in the eastern United States since 1900. In particular, browsing by high densities of white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) has resulted in forests dominated by browse-tolerant species, such as black cherry (Prunus serotina), and greatly reduced relative abundance of other tree species, notably pin cherry (Prunus pensylvanica) and birches (Betula spp.). To quantify effects of these changes on caterpillars, we sampled caterpillars from 960 branch tips of the 8 tree species that comprise 95% of trees in Allegheny hardwood forests: red maple (Acer rubrum), striped maple (Acer pensylvanicum), sugar maple (Acer saccharum), sweet birch (Betula lenta), yellow birch (Betula allegheniensis), American beech (Fagus grandifolia), black cherry, and pin cherry. We collected 547 caterpillar specimens that belonged to 66 Lepidoptera and 10 Hymenoptera species. Caterpillar density, species richness, and community composition differed significantly among tree species sampled. Pin cherry, nearly eliminated at high deer density, had the highest density and diversity of caterpillars. Pin cherry shared a common caterpillar community with black cherry, which was distinct from those of other tree hosts. As high deer density continues to replace diverse forests of cherries, maples, birches, and beech with monodominant stands of black cherry, up to 66% of caterpillar species may be eliminated. Hence, deer-induced changes in forest vegetation are likely to ricochet back up forest food webs and therefore negatively affect species that depend on caterpillars and moths for food and pollination.
Authors:
Laura Wheatall; Tim Nuttle; Ellen Yerger
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Publication Detail:
Type:  JOURNAL ARTICLE     Date:  2013-5-16
Journal Detail:
Title:  Conservation biology : the journal of the Society for Conservation Biology     Volume:  -     ISSN:  1523-1739     ISO Abbreviation:  Conserv. Biol.     Publication Date:  2013 May 
Date Detail:
Created Date:  2013-5-17     Completed Date:  -     Revised Date:  -    
Medline Journal Info:
Nlm Unique ID:  9882301     Medline TA:  Conserv Biol     Country:  -    
Other Details:
Languages:  ENG     Pagination:  -     Citation Subset:  -    
Copyright Information:
© 2013 Society for Conservation Biology.
Affiliation:
Department of Biology, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, 114 Weyandt Hall, Indiana, PA, 15705, U.S.A.
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