Conservation Evidence strives to be as useful to conservationists as possible. Please take our survey to help the team improve our resource.

Providing evidence to improve practice

Individual study: White-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus densities appear to affect mid-canopy songbird communities in hardwood forests in Pennsylvania, USA

Published source details

deCalesta D.S. (1994) Effect of white-tailed deer on songbirds within managed forests in Pennsylvania. The Journal of Wildlife Management, 58, 711-718


This study is summarised as evidence for the intervention(s) shown on the right. The icon shows which synopsis it is relevant to.

Reduce adverse habitat alterations by excluding problematic terrestrial species Bird Conservation

A replicated study in four hardwood forest sites in Pennsylvania, USA, between 1980 and 1991 (deCaslesta 1994) found higher species richness and abundances of intermediate canopy-nesting songbirds in plots with lower densities of white-tailed deer Odocoileus virginianus across sixteen experimental plots (deer density of 3.7 deer/km2: averages of 17.5 individuals and 11 intermediate canopy-nesting species in each plot; 7.9 deer/km2: 16 individuals and 11.5 intermediate canopy-nesting species; 14.9 deer/km2: averages of 13 individuals and seven ICN species; 24.9 deer/km2: averages of 10.5 individuals and 7.5 intermediate canopy-nesting species).  Plots were 13 or 26 ha and contained between one and four deer. There were no changes in either species richness or abundance of ground-nesting or upper canopy-nesting species. Threshold densities for songbirds not found with high deer densities (eastern wood pewee Contopus virens, indigo bunting Passerina cyanea, least flycatcher Empidonax minimus, yellow-billed cuckoo Coccyzus americanus, cerulean warbler Dendroica cerulea, eastern phoebe Sayornis phoebe and American robin Turdus migratorius) appeared to be between 7.9 and 14.9 deer/km2.