What role do deer play in the ecosystem?

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In many areas of the United States, an excess of white-tail deer has caused ecological problems.  Deer are seen as a "keystone species" for forests.  This means that they can completely change an ecosystem through their behavior.

In the Eastern and Midwestern US, the excess deer populations have had bad effects on the vegetation in forests.  Deer tend to prefer certain species of plants as food and they overgraze those species.

When deer overgraze those species, they leave ecological niches open for other species of vegetation.  Often the species that take over are detrimental kinds of vegetation, including invasive exotic plant species (plants that aren't native to an ecosystem and tend to disrupt ecosystems they enter).

Follow the links for specific details about problems associated with excessive deer populations.

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Deer eat all sorts of plants. Some scientists estimate that they eat over a ton of greenery a year. In light of this, they keep greens in check. Also they are eaten by wolves, tigers and lions - - not to mention some people. Hence, they are food for some animals.

What is most interesting is the rapid increase of deer in our society. A New York Times article ran a story about the explosion in deer population. One negative aspect about this is the spread of Lyme disease in many communities. Lyem is a pretty serious disease. Also with the increase in deer, there have been more car accidents.

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