Project Overview

Deer overabundance: impacts on forest regeneration.

Faculty Sponsor

Catherine Cardelus (


Environmental Studies


In this study, we are experimentally testing the effects of deer exclusion on seedling regeneration, soil nutrient status, carbon sequestration, and tick densities in five paired control/exclosure sites in and around Colgate campus. Understanding the effects of deer on our forests across organisms (plants-insects) and the extent of these effects will allow us to assess forest health. This study will also allow us to measure projected carbon sequestration and determine management strategies for forest regeneration. We hypothesize that over time:
  1. Plant seedling and herbaceous richness will increase with deer exclosure as deer will be prevented from browsing;
  2. Soil nutrient status and cycling will increase with increased plant species richness as will microbial and invertebrate species richness;
  3. Deer browse will result in enhanced photosynthetic rate and decreased water potential of herbaceous taxa;
  4. Total aboveground biomass will increase over time (there will be a lag of 5-7 years) as nutrient stocks increase in the soil which will result in greater carbon sequestration.
Students will particiapte in all aspects of data collection and laboratory work including:
  1. Tree, sapling and seedling census
  2. Soil nutrient collection and analysis

Student Qualifications

Students qualification include: curiosity; enthusiasm for being outdoors, even in the rain; enthusiasm for being in the lab, even when the sun is shining; knowledge of excel; ideally, at least 1 semester of chemistry.

Number of Student Researchers

3-4 students

Project Length

8 weeks

Applications open on 01/03/2021 and close on 03/22/2021

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If you have questions, please contact Karyn Belanger (