Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Wildland Resources

Committee Chair(s)

Kari Veblen (Committee Chair)


Kari Veblen


Janis Boettinger


Juan Villalba


Heterogeneity in landscape conditions (e.g., soil types) precludes a “one size fits all” management strategy across large landscapes. New management approaches that explicitly account for heterogeneous landscapes (and the variable conditions therein) will be required to maintain habitat quality. In particular, we require an improved mechanistic understanding of how the outcomes of conservation and restoration actions are contingent upon a) contextual abiotic factors (e.g., moisture availability mediated by soils and precipitation) and b) their interactions with biotic factors (e.g., browsing wildlife).

We propose to answer fundamental questions about how big sagebrush (Artemisia tridentata), the foundational species for sagebrush habitat, responds to browsing over a variety of soil moisture conditions. Ultimately, this work will lend insight into how soils and herbivory influence persistence of sagebrush over heterogeneous landscapes, and ultimately contribute to maintenance of habitat for wildlife. This information can then be used to create decision support tools to help prioritize conservation and restoration actions across broad landscapes, targeting areas where management actions are most needed and/or likely to be successful. Ultimately this work will improve managers’ ability to maintain wildlife habitat.