NEWSBRIEF: Volunteers sought to assess deer impact on vegetation

Deer affect vegetation. But how much? The University of Minnesota Extension asks that question in a new research project, for which volunteer help is needed. Four training sessions are offered in June to volunteers so that scientists can better understand deer impact.     

High deer populations put stress on native tree seedlings, making it more difficult for them to grow into healthy trees. Without a new generation of tree seedlings, the structure and species composition of forests can change.

 “We have surprisingly little information available statewide that determines deer impacts to vegetation,” said Matt Russell, extension forest resources specialist and university assistant professor. The study, Assessing Vegetation Impact from Deer, will help researchers better understand the impact of deer across multiple kinds of land. 

 Volunteers will establish monitoring plots in wooded areas. These citizen scientists record measurements of seedlings on tree species known to be palatable to deer. The data collected will help researchers investigate unanswered questions about how deer populations impact Minnesota woodlands, including which regions of the state are at risk. 

 This citizen science program offers volunteers a chance to:  

 • Learn about the impact of deer on Minnesota’s woodlands, and signs are of a high deer population

• Learn about current scientific monitoring techniques.

• Set up monitoring plots and take regular measurements.

• Contribute to scientific research at the University of Minnesota.


Volunteer training will be offered: 

 • 6 to 8 p.m., June 5, Cedar Creek Ecosystem Science Reserve, East Bethel  

• 6 to 8 p.m., June 6, Dodge Nature Center, West St Paul  

• 1 to 3 p.m., June 7, Lake Alexander Woods Scientific and Natural Area, Cushing (in Morrison County)  

• 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., June 8, University of Minnesota Cloquet Forestry Center, Cloquet


To register contact Johanna Desprez at For more information visit: or contact Russell at

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