University of Minnesota
University of Minnesota
College of Biological Sciences

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Methods for Experiment 319 -

Proposed Methods

We would like to establish temporary plots at Cedar Creek to test field protocols for a citizen science project that is being developed by University of Minnesota Extension. The citizen science project will help us obtain data about deer populations in Minnesota and inform the public about the impact deer have on forest health. There is a protocol being used in New York that we think could be applied in Minnesota. However, before we implement this project around that protocol we would like to test it in Minnesota across diverse forest types, including Cedar Creek. To test the protocol we would create six circular plots (four plots with 6-ft radius and two plots with 12-ft radius) in woodlands. Within these plots, we would locate 20-50 tree seedlings of the same species, tag them, and measure their natural height and the number of deer scat piles in the larger plots. Further, we would be recording what method of tagging survived the winter best and which was the easiest to find the following year. We will use the plots established at Cedar Creek as a pilot program that tests the Assessing Vegetation Impacts from Deer (AVID) method developed by researchers at Cornell University. The objective of setting up plots is to: (1) test the AVID method to determine if it can be applied in Minnesota, and (2) evaluate several methods to tag and mark individual wildflowers and seedlings so that they can be located and re-measured the following year. The plots need to be located within a woodland, preferably in an area that is known to have deer. We are open to recommendations about the appropriate locations of the plots from the staff at Cedar Creek. Three suggested potential locations from Caitlin Potter are shown on the attached map. We seek to establish two circular plots that have a 12-ft radius and four plots that have a 6-ft radius. There would need to be at least 25 ft between the plots. Within the six plots, we will locate 20 to 50 of the same herbaceous species or seedlings. Each of those individuals will be tagged so that they can be remeasured the following spring. Measurements include species, natural height of the herbaceous plants and seedlings, and metadata about the location of the plot. In the larger plots, we will collect data on the number of deer scat piles found in the plot. We will also be recording how successful it is to relocate plants using different tagging methods the following spring. We will not be taking specimens. The materials that will be left in the woods will be wooden stakes and/or PVC pipes to mark the location of the plot and tagging material that mark individual plants. The environmental impact on Cedar creek will be minimal. At the end of the study we will collect everything left in the woodlands. Our plots should have no impact on other research being done in the area. No facility space will be needed. We hope to start the project in Late August- Early September 2017 and it would likely last for one year until September 2018.