Other Denizens of the College Woods

Part of what makes deer overpopulation such a problem is that the damage is not restricted to plant communities. The deer themselves suffer. The higher the population, the more likely diseases are to spread among the deer and the worse these diseases tend to be. The deer are also more likely to starve during the winter if they’ve eaten all of the perennial plants before the early spring growth starts up again. Even more important, by taking out the base of the food chain, over-browsing by deer removes habitat and food needed by other organisms. Once one animal species starts declining because of this, the other species that rely on the first animal for food start being affected as well. If this happens with enough species, it will begin to change the composition of the ecosystem as a whole.

He was around 2-3 inches long! The plants are Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens).

He was around 2-3 inches long! The plants are Partridge Berry (Mitchella repens), a small ground cover.

I found this toad in one of the fenced plots near Mill Neck Road.

I found this toad in one of the fenced plots near Mill Neck Road.

One benefit to doing this field research is that by spending so much time in the woods, I tend to come across a lot of the organisms that rely on the plants I’ve been studying. The College Woods contains a wide variety of native fauna, some more common than others. While the animals and fungi in the College Woods are not my area of expertise, it has definitely been interesting to see these creatures interacting in their natural environment. Here are pictures of some of the more interesting ones I’ve found! I don’t know the exact species of the beetle or the toad, but I believe the caterpillar is a tiger swallowtail butterfly.

This is a tiger swallowtail caterpillar sitting on a corner pole of one of the plots. He was bigger than my pinkie finger!

This is a tiger swallowtail caterpillar sitting on a corner pole of one of the plots. He was bigger than my pinkie finger!

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