Measuring the biological and economic effects of wildlife herbivory on afforested carbon sequestration sites in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley
Sumerall, Daniel Cole
AdvisorGrebner, L. Donald
Mammalian herbivory of bottomland hardwood seedlings has been listed as one of the primary causal factors of failed afforestation efforts in the Lower Mississippi Alluvial Valley (LMAV). This study examined the biological and economic effects of mammalian herbivory on recently afforested carbon sequestration sites in the LMAV. Selected seedlings of six planting mixes were observed through the first year following planting to monitor seedling survival, growth, and mammalian herbivory. It was determined that greater than 10% of selected seedlings were browsed by various mammalian herbivore species, and some species mixes were browsed in excess of 50%. Financial analyses compared alternative afforestation strategies and determined to what extent herbivore-induced seedling mortality could reduce investment returns of landowners engaged in afforestation activities. In the presence of extreme mammalian herbivory, landowner returns can be reduced by hundreds of dollars per acre and could prevent further afforestation activities in the LMAV.