Wildlands & Woodlands Website

Highstead works to inspire curiosity and build knowledge about plants and wooded landscapes in order to enhance life, preserve nature, and advance sound stewardship practices.

Moose, Deer and the Dynamics of Central New England Forests

Ecology Research > Deer Forest Interactions > Moose, Deer and the Dynamics of Central New England Forests

Moose are the largest deer in the world and consume up to 50 lbs. of woody plant material per day. Along with white-tailed deer, they represent an important disturbance process to forests.

After being extirpated from Central New England by the early 19th century, moose have recolonized much of their former range in the past three decades, ranging as far south as Northern Connecticut today.

Moose and deer are drawn to the vigorous, young growth in forests recently disturbed by logging, insect outbreak, fire, or windstorm. Highstead collaborates with the Massachusetts Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit and the Harvard Forest’s Long-term Ecological Research Program to examine how moose and deer interact with forest disturbances to shape forest structure and composition. Current studies include:

  1. The influence of moose and deer on tree regeneration in  recently logged forests
  2. The influence of moose and deer on the diversity and composition of herbaceous layers in recently logged forests
  3. Ungulate-vegetation interactions in forest disturbed by (simulated) Hemlock Woolly Adelgid and logging

Other Collaborators and Partners:

Massachusetts Department of Environmental Conservation
Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife
University of Massachusetts
Great Mountain Forest
Yale-Myers Forest

Learn More:

Faison, E. K. 2015. Complex effects of ungulate browsers on tree recruitment and herbaceous layers in New England temperate forests. PhD Dissertation. University of Massachusetts, Amherst, MA.

DeStefano, S., E. Faison, J. Compton, and D. Wattles. 2010. Forest exclosures: an experimental approach to understanding browsing by moose and deer. Massachusetts Wildlife 2: 14-23.

Faison, E.K., G. Motzkin, D.R. Foster, and J.E. McDonald. 2010. Moose foraging in the temperate forests of southern New England. Northeastern Naturalist 17: 1-18.

Wattles, D. W., and S. DeStefano. 2011. Status and management of moose in the northeastern United States. Alces 47:53-68.