Effects of Commercial Thinning on White-tailed Deer Forage Availability and Ecological Restoration Objectives in Loblolly Pine Stands
Type of DegreeMaster's Thesis
Forestry and Wildlife Science
MetadataShow full item record
Planted pine (Pinus spp.) stands represent 19% of the forested land in the southeastern U.S. Though often managed for timber production, many landowners have alternative objectives, such as improving habitat quality for game species like white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Commercial thinning and prescribed fire at mid-rotation can enhance and maintain habitat quality for deer by increasing coverage of preferred forage plants. However, the relationship between thinning intensity and deer forage availability has not been well documented. Therefore, we conducted an operational-scale, manipulative experiment in which we thinned five loblolly pine (P. taeda) stands to residual basal areas of 9, 14, and 18 m2/ha within the Piedmont physiographic region of Georgia. We evaluated the effects of these treatments, with and without prescribed fire, on deer forage, and also measured the accuracy and precision of commercial logging crews at achieving target thinning prescriptions for ecological restoration efforts.