Abby Hay

Dec. 13, 2022

Abby Hay, crouching in a forest.Throughout the Natural Areas, and much of eastern North America, there has been widespread tree regeneration failure, meaning that the seedling and sapling tree layers have much lower densities than needed for successful replacement of the canopy when those trees die. One reason why this is thought to be happening is overabundant white-tailed deer, which selectively browse on seedlings of many important tree species. Another possible contributor to this issue is non-native invasive plants, which grow dense in places and outcompete native tree seedlings. Tree seedlings can be planted, but if deer and/or invasive plants impede survival or growth they won’t contribute to forest regeneration. Therefore, the impacts of deer and invasives need to be better understood to inform management strategies to promote tree growth.

My project focuses on the individual and interactive effects of white-tailed deer and invasive plants on tree regeneration: both natural regeneration and artificial regeneration of planted seedlings. In an early-successional forest stand in the Bachelor Preserve I planted native tree seedlings in experimental plots where deer are excluded, invasive woody plants are removed, both treatments, and neither (control). I will publish my findings and share them with land managers so they can modify their practices to promote tree regeneration and to help preserve our forests.


Abby Hay with three other students, laughing in a natural area of Miami University. Seedling in the ground forest with tags on two trees