Experimental test of the impacts of feral hogs on forest dynamics and processes in the southeastern US Academic Article uri icon


  • The foraging activities of nonindigenous feral hogs (Sus scrofa) create widespread, conspicuous soil disturbances. Hogs may impact forest regeneration dynamics through both direct effects, such as consumption of seeds, or indirectly via changes in disturbance frequency or intensity. Because they incorporate litter and live plant material into the soil, hogs may also influence ground cover and soil nutrient concentrations. We investigated the impacts of exotic feral hogs in a mixed pine-hardwood forest in the Big Thicket National Preserve (Texas, USA) where they are abundant. We established sixteen 10 m 10 m plots and fenced eight of them to exclude feral hogs for 7 years. Excluding hogs increased the diversity of woody plants in the understory. Large seeded (>250 mg) species known to be preferred forage of feral hogs all responded positively to hog exclusion, thus consumption of Carya (hickory nuts), Quercus (acorns), and Nyssa seeds (tupelo) by hogs may be causing this pattern. The only exotic woody species, Sapium sebiferum (Chinese tallow tree), was more than twice as abundant with hogs present, perhaps as a response to increased disturbance. Hogs increased the amount of bare soil by decreasing the amounts of plant cover and surface litter. Plots with hogs present had lower soil C:N, possibly due to accelerated rates of nitrogen mineralization. These results demonstrate that hogs may influence future overstory composition and reduce tree diversity in this forest. Management of hogs may be desirable in this and other forests where large-seeded species are an important component of the ecosystem. Further, by accelerating litter breakdown and elevating nitrogen in the soil, hogs have the potential to impact local vegetation composition via nitrogen inputs as well. 2009 Elsevier B.V.

published proceedings


author list (cited authors)

  • Siemann, E., Carrillo, J. A., Gabler, C. A., Zipp, R., & Rogers, W. E.

citation count

  • 68

complete list of authors

  • Siemann, Evan||Carrillo, Juli A||Gabler, Christopher A||Zipp, Roy||Rogers, William E

publication date

  • August 2009