Species and physiographic factors drive Indian cucumber root and Canada mayflower plant chemistry: Implications for white-tailed deer forage quality

Nico Navarro, Duane R. Diefenbach, Marc E. McDill, Emily J. Domato, Christopher S. Rosenberry, Patrick J. Drohan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations

Abstract

Nutrition is fundamental to white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) management given its relationship to habitat carrying capacity and population productivity. Ecological Sites (ESs) are a United States federal landscape management unit of specific land potential due to unique soils, topography, climate, parent material, and perhaps deer forage nutritional value. We present results of a study that extends the use of ESs to inform white-tailed deer management by evaluating indicator plant chemistry in two spring forb species, Indian cucumber root (Medeola virginiana) and Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense), across the northcentral Appalachians. We sampled spring forbs and underlying soils across two ESs: Dry, upland, oak–maple–hemlock hardwood forest (OMH) and Deep soil, high slope, northern hardwood forests (NHF). Plant elemental content, soil pH, and site aspect, slope and elevation were measured. Our results show that forb chemistry differs between species and within a species geographically. Indian cucumber root, as compared to Canada mayflower, has significantly higher Mg, Na, Cu, Fe, and Zn, and lower Mn. Canada mayflower in the NHF ES, versus OMH ES, was found to have significantly higher K, Mn, and B. Indian cucumber root in the NHF ES, versus the OMH ES, was found to have significantly higher Mg, Al, Fe, and Ca:P ratio but lower K. Linear discriminant analysis shows that plant tissue Mn was the best discriminator between species, and between ESs, Canada mayflower plant tissue Mn and Indian cucumber plant tissue P, K, Ca, Mg and Mn were best discriminators. Given that nutrition determines habitat carrying capacity, differences in forage nutrition between ESs may have different potentials to support deer. Forage nutrition is an important aspect of deer habitat conditions and carrying capacity, thus ESs are likely to support deer populations with different growth potential, which means that even if the same plant species occur in different ESs their nutritional value to deer may differ.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number116545
JournalJournal of Environmental Management
Volume326
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 15 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law

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