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  1. Forest-grassland ecotones are a mosaic of grassland, savanna, and upland forest. As such, landowners may have opportunities to choose to manage their lands for multiple objectives. We estimated the economic returns from managing forest and rangeland in southeastern Oklahoma, USA to produce different combinations of timber, cattle forage, and white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus Zimmermann) browse for a 40-year period. We further conducted a survey to understand landowner perceptions of obstacles to adopting active management that involve timber harvest and prescribed fire. The highest net return was obtained from the treatment with harvested timber that was burned every four years (uneven-aged woodland/forest) because it had the greatest gross return from a combination of timber (46%), cattle forage (42%), and deer browse (11%). The return from this treatment was greater than that for managed for timber only (closed-canopy forest) or prioritizing cattle and deer (savanna). Survey results suggested that landowners were aware of the benefits of active management but that the majority (66%) considered cost a major obstacle in the management of their forest or rangeland. In particular, women forestland owners and older landowners considered cost an obstacle. Our findings advocate integrated timber, cattle, and deer management as the best economic strategy within the forest-grassland ecotone and for targeted outreach and landowner education related to the benefits of active management. 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available October 1, 2024
  2. Active management such as prescribed fire and thinning can restore savanna and prairie ecosystem to maintain a full suite of ecosystem services and create suitable habitat for wildlife species such as white-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus). Active management comes with the cost of management and acceptance of management tools. The south-central transitional ecoregion of the USA, which otherwise was a mixture of forest, savanna, and tallgrass prairie, is increasing in woody plant dominance due to the exclusion of fire and other anthropogenic factors. Deer hunting is a vital source of revenue generation to offset the landowner’s management cost in the region. We studied Oklahoma landowners’ perceptions regarding active and sustainable management of forest and rangeland for deer habitat using two established theories of reasoned action and planned behavior as well as expanded theories adding moral norms. We analyzed mailed survey data using structural equation modeling. We found that subjective norms and perceived behavior control significantly affected deer hunting intention when moral norms were introduced into the model. Attitudes independently significantly affected intentions of deer hunting but have negative relations with the intentions. The study suggested that landowners have positive social pressure and were interested in active management but associated financial burden and risk could be shaping negative attitudes. Keywords Theory of planned behavior ● Theory of reasoned action ● Moral norms ● Prescribed fire ● White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) 
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    Free, publicly-accessible full text available September 1, 2024
  3. White-tailed deer (Odocoileus virginianus) hunting is an important economic activity associated with the management of forests and rangelands in the USA, with over $12.9 billion dollars of related annual expenditures. Reducing tree cover through thinning and prescribed fire both have the potential to increase the quantity and quality of deer forage. We evaluated the long-term impacts of eight different combinations of fire return intervals and tree harvest on forage productivity and protein content of the forage. Based on management regime, study units ranged from savanna to closed-canopy forest. Aboveground net primary production (ANPP) of six functional groups (grass, panicum, forb, legume, woody, sedge) of understory vegetation was measured in October 2019 and 2020 using destructive sampling. Samples for foliar crude protein (CP) concentration were collected in spring, summer, and fall of 2020. Total understory ANPP ranged from 2.9 to 466.3 g m− 2 and was up to 566% greater in savanna systems maintained by frequent fire (return interval of three years or less) than in non-burned forest treatments. Annual burning resulted in ANPP dominated by herbaceous plants composed mostly of firetolerant grasses (e.g., Andropogon gerardii, Schizachyrium scoparium). Longer fire return intervals or no fire resulted in roughly equal ANPP from understory woody and herbaceous species. Crude protein concentrations were up to 45.7% greater in the woodland and forest units than in the savanna units for seven of the eleven species sampled. The greater CP in the forests was most noticeable in the summer when deer needs for quality forage are substantial. Increased protein concentrations of understory species in the forests, but greater ANPP in the savannas indicate that managing for a mix of savanna and woodland could be ideal for balancing forage quantity with increased forage protein. 
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