Date of Award:

2014

Document Type:

Thesis

Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)

Department:

Wildland Resources

Advisor/Chair:

Juan J. Villalba

Abstract

Ranchers, farmers, land managers, and resource management agencies have been plagued with various types of invasive weeds for decades, ultimately affecting millions of acres of viable wildlife habitat, grazing, and recreational opportunities. Invasive weeds often have nutritional contexts that negatively affect animals in some way, increasing the incentive to avoid consuming it by various animal species and domestic livestock. With the current amount of land infested with this weed, and the limited knowledge of the reason for avoidance, the underlying causes of livestock avoidance require in-depth and fundamental understanding.

In my MS program, I sought to explore the relationship of plant and herbivore interactions in regards to grazing, animal diet selection through the use of supplementation, along with understanding the chemical compounds that cause avoidance of medusahead by domestic animals. This research will help us better understand the reasoning behind grazing avoidance and preference, and provide further understanding and management approaches using livestock as an alternative management tool in hopes of creating sustainable ecosystems with complementary benefits for soils, plants, animals, and land managers.

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