Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources


David A. Pyke


Herbivory and plant competition affect sexual reproduction of plants in various ways. Exclusion of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) and cattle, removal of plant competition (both inter- and intraspecific), and all combinations of the above treatments were used to examine the individual and combined affects on Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis (Wyoming big sagebrush) reproduction. Reproduction of Artemisia tridentata ssp. wyomingensis was divided into hierarchical levels of the number of: (1) modules per current-year ' s growth (CYG), (2) nodes per module, (3) inflorescence heads per node, (4) achenes per inflorescence head and (5) percent viable achenes. Counts at hierarchical levels were made to determine the level affected by the treatments.

Deer herbivory significantly reduced reproduction at the reproductive-module-per-CYG-vegetative-biomass hierarchical level, while plant competition (both inter- and intraspecific) significantly reduced reproduction at the nodes-per-reproductive-module level and at the inflorescence-heads-per-node level. Cattle presence had neither a beneficial nor detrimental influence on reproduction during this two-year study. The combined effects of release from deer herbivory and from plant competition on reproduction was more than additive because these biotic interactions affected nested hierarchical levels.