Our group collected samples of Heteromeles Arbutifolia from both Santa Catalina Island and Pepperdine University’s campus in Malibu, CA in order to compare the morphological differences and deer preference between them. In our experiment, we planted the H. Arbutifolia from both locations side by side on a hillside overlooked by the Thorton Administration Center building on Pepperdine’s campus. In the first trial the deer did not consume either of the samples; we believe this was due to the length of time from when the branches were collected from the island to when they were introduced to the deer on campus. However, after receiving fresh samples of H. Arbutifolia from the island, we immediately counted the leaves and introduced the branches to the same feeding site. The results from the second trial confirmed our hypothesis that deer have a preference for the H. Arbutifolia grown on Catalina Island over that grown in Malibu. The spine length on the leaves from both samples showed a significant difference; the spines from H. Arbutifolia grown on Pepperdine’s campus were consistently longer than those measured from the Catalina leaves. Overall, there was a clear difference in the morphological characteristics and herbivore preference for the H. Arbutifolia grown in Catalina over that found in Malibu.
Clark, Amelia I.; Smith, Brett; Smith, Courtney; and Davis, Stephen D., "Foraging Preference by Wild Deer on Toyon (Heteromeles arbutifolia) from Santa Catalina Island versus Malibu" (2008). Pepperdine University, Featured Research. Paper 8.