Ecogical Damage at Devil's Den

Press Release: Nature Conservancy

November 10 2005
Over the course of nearly 15 years as director of Devil’s Den Preserve,
Stephen Patton, Ph. D., has observed the gradual loss of native flowering
plants such as pink ladies slipper and red trillium from everywhere except
the most inaccessible ledge sites. Similarly, many of the tree species,
especially the oaks, have been unable to regenerate because acorns and
saplings are consumed by deer and are unable to mature to full size, the
release said. 
Without regeneration, mature oaks will not be replaced as they die and the
ecology of the forest will change significantly, Dr. Patton said.
Research has shown that many forest wildflowers begin to decline when deer
densities exceed 10-15 per square mile; songbirds using forest ground and
shrub layers are affected (foraging, nesting, cover from predators) at
densities of 20 deer per square mile; and deer densities of 26 per square
mile have been shown to prevent regeneration in oak forests, according to
the release.