We conducted a field survey aimed at ascertaining the habitat status of Sika deer in the Mount Mitake region and the extent to which those deer feed on Anemonopsis macrophylla (commonly known as false anemone).
Deer sightings and field signs (feces and signs of browsing on plants) in many locations, including the main approach to the shrine, Mount Hinode, and the Rock Garden suggest the presence of deer across an extensive area. Deer were also observed during daylight hours in 2016. In a survey conducted using sensor cameras, deer were observed almost every month in Fujimine Garden, Nagaodaira, and the shrine grove.
A survey of vegetation in Fujimine Garden found that 76 varieties of herbaceous and woody plants showed signs of deer browsing. Among those varieties were the rare species Anemonopsis macrophylla, Erythronium japonicum (commonly known as dogtooth lily), and Saussurea sinuatoides (a thistle-like plant known as Takao-higotai in Japanese).
We conducted a quadrat survey to ascertain the habitat status of Anemonopsis macrophylla in the Mount Mitake region and the extent to which deer feed on this species. Some sample plots had a high density of browsed plants and a high predation rate. We discovered that deer browsing pressure is particularly high in May and in some sample plots, the size of specimens declines from May onward. In Fujimine Garden, specimen density was higher after the installation of an anti-predator fence than it had been before. It is presumed that this is because deer browsing pressure disappeared and specimen density increased.
We also found sample plots with few specimens in flower and few that had produced seeds, and sample plots where the majority of specimens were small. Deer browsing pressure is believed to be a threat to these populations of small specimens.