Positive interactions (facilitation) between plant species have been documented, particularly in stressful environments. We investigated whether an invasive shrub enhances growth or survival of native tree seedlings in forests where white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are abundant. Seedlings of four tree species were planted under, or 0.5 m outside of, the canopy of Amur honeysuckle (Lonicera maackii) shrubs in plots unfenced or fenced to exclude deer in two stands in southwestern Ohio, USA, and monitored for 1 y. One species succumbed to transplant shock, but browse was extensive on the other three species in unfenced plots. Facilitation was evident on sugar maple (Acer saccharum), as seedlings under shrub cover had higher survival and final leaf count in unfenced plots, but not where deer were excluded. However, there was no significant facilitation by L. maackii of seedling growth or survival for white oak (Quercus alba) or shagbark hickory (Carya ovata), indicating this shrub's branches do not deter deer browse on highly preferred species or the effect is too modest to emerge in a one-year study. In at least some cases, the negative effects of L. maackii on tree seedlings that have been documented previously are offset by mitigation of the negative effects of deer herbivory. This suggests that where browsing impacts are problematic, deer abundance should be reduced before this, and perhaps other invasive shrubs, are managed.
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Vol. 37 • No. 4